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Public Health


Paige P. Wermuth


Cervical cancer is an emerging public health problem in developing countries. Globally, it is the 3rd most common malignancy in women after breast and colorectal cancers and 4th most frequent cancer in women, with an estimated 570,000 new cases and 311,000 deaths in 2018. Cervical cancer screening in the developed countries is credited with the reductions in cervical cancer morbidity and mortality during the last 50 years. However, nearly 90% of cervical cancer deaths occur in less developed countries. Ghana has a cervical cancer rate of 26.4%. Further, it is the highest cancer incidence faced among women 25 to 44 years and has a mortality rate of 17.4% in this age group. Knowledge, culture, attitude, and beliefs are known to limit women's participation in Pap test screening programs. Guided by the health belief model, the purpose of this quantitative study was to examine how knowledge, attitude, culture, and religious beliefs affected intent to seek Pap test screening among adolescent girls in Accra, Ghana. A total of 155 participants ages 16 to 20 years completed a 30-item questionnaire. Descriptive frequencies were calculated. Correlation and Chi-square tests were also performed to assess associations with intent to screen with Pap test. Most girls (92%) had never heard about Pap test screening. There were statistically significant correlations between cervical cancer knowledge (p=0.032) and attitude (p=0.001) with intent to participate in Pap test screening. However, culture (p=0.049) and religious beliefs (p=0.529) were not significantly associated with screening intent. The implications for social change include informing practice and research on how cervical cancer prevention programs can be tailored to girls living in countries where different cultural and religious values are practiced.

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