Summary of report content
Healthwatch Bolton undertook research on cervical cancer screening and related experiences in Bolton. They chose this topic following consulting on potential health and wellbeing activity for 2019 -20. The work was conducted between July 2019 – February 2020. They spoke to 1,342 people via a survey and a number of focus groups. The general aim of the project was to establish what is and is not known by local people in Bolton about cervical screening. They also hoped to highlight potential community cancer champions, which will ensure the work of increasing participation in cervical screening is sustainable.
Nearly 4 in 5 people felt that cervical screening was very important to them. Two in three felt it was important to prevent ill health or diagnose it at an early sage or to stay healthy. Just over half had been affected by screening results or knew someone who had. Almost all were aware of the purpose of cervical screening, and over nine in ten knew where to get information about it. Nearly nine in ten had been invited for a screening. Most of these felt positive when they were invited. Nearly all had attended a screening.
The findings from the focus groups and engagement is split into general feedback and specific feedback from minority ethnic groups. The general groups were shocked to hear the number of people being diagnosed and the low uptake of screening. They felt that a range of measures could help increase attendance, including better education. The minority ethnic groups told Healthwatch that the lack of information about screening in community languages was a barrier, but also that some people couldn’t read or write so couldn’t understand the letters. People felt reassured when they learnt they could ask for a specific nurse or wear a long skirt for screening appointments. They also felt that more education was needed, not just in schools but also faith settings to tackle myths.
The report contains 10 recommendations about how to improve take up of cervical screening, including appointments and how they are conducted, better education, working closely with women from minority ethnic backgrounds who don’t attend appointments, highlight the need for unmarried women from BAME communities to still attend cervical screening and educate men in the community about the need for women to attend cervical screening – so women can be supported to attend.