Knowledge, Perceptions and Practices of Cervical Cancer Screening among Women aged between 15 and 49 selected Clinics of Lusaka District
Tembo, Dadirai Nomvuyo
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Cervical Cancer (CC) is a major public health problem, not only in Zambia but the world over. Millions of new cases are being reported, especially in the sub-Saharan Africa, where Zambia is located. This has resulted in a number of interventions being put in place to halt the spread of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection, which eventually causes CC, like sensitization and advocacy around the screening of cervical cancer or carrying out a Pap smear. The overall aim of this study was to determine the Knowledge, Perceptions and Practices of Cervical Cancer Screening (CCS) among women aged between 15 and 49 years in Lusaka District. The emphasis was on coverage/utilization of the CCS centers, association between perceptions and women’s decisions on the uptake of CCS, practices influencing women in shunning CCS and also the factors that would motivate women to undertake CCS in order that the coverage/utilization in the centers is eventually improved. This was a cross-sectional study which also used a mixed method (quantitative and qualitative) in collecting data. Respondents were drawn from three highly populated areas within Lusaka District (i.e. Ng’ombe & Kalingalinga clinics) and the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) which were purposively selected because of being CCS centers. Every 10th woman aged between 15 and 49 coming to the health facility for any service was systematically selected and recruited if they consented, then interviewed using the structured interview guide and two Focused Group Discussions (FGDs) were conducted (i.e. 16 women who also consented). The study recruited a total of 474 women. The data was then analyzed using two software packages; STATA version 11.0, which was used to analyze the quantitative data (questionnaires), while NVIVO version 9.0 was used to analyze the qualitative data (FGDs and verbatim recordings). The confidence interval was set at 95%, and a result yielding a P-value of 5% or less was considered to be statistically significant. Bivariate, Multivariate Logistic Regression analysis and Chi-square tests were done in order to ascertain any association or relationships between the dependent and independent variables. The Matrices were also used to come up with an analysis for the FGDs using participants’ own words and a summary was written in narrative form. The study findings revealed that there is a 50.6 per cent prevalence of knowledge about CCS although about a quarter of the women (i.e.22.6 per cent) had been screened. The research further revealed that a 98.3 per cent of the women expressed willingness to undergo CCS. In conclusion, the results showed that although CCS is still very low in Lusaka District, screening is perceived positively. It is also important to note that merely having centers of screening would not mean that women would undertake the screening because to them it may not be an immediate need. It is therefore imperative that more sensitization is carried out to help change the mindset and CCS to be put as policy to be carried out at least once annually.