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The differing understanding of cervical screening among white women and women from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community

Annual statistics from the NHS Screening Programme reveal the age and location of women who do not attend screening when invited. However, these statistics are not broken down by ethnic origin. It is widely accepted that people from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background are harder to reach and so less likely to access health programmes. To understand the barriers to screening for BAME women the charity commissioned research with YouGov that looked into cervical screening uptake and knowledge about cervical cancer within BAME communities, and comparing this to responses from white British women. 

Key findings include:

  • BAME women were more likely than white women to say they had never attended a screening (12% vs 8%)
  • 70% of Asian women aged 20-65 knew that screening is a test to check cells from the cervix to find pre-cancerous abnormalities against 91% of white women aged 20-65
  • 53% of BAME women aged 55-65 think screening is a necessary health test against 67% of white women aged 55-65
  • Almost half (45%) of white women would be comfortable talking to a male GP about cervical screening but only 28% of BAME women agreed
  • Twice as many BAME women as white women said better knowledge about the test and why it is important would encourage them to attend (30% against 14%)

The survey revealed that there needs to be further education within the BAME community about what cervical screening is and why it is so important. Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust continues to target these communities with activities such as such as BAME workshops in 2013 and 2014 for local organisations to gain understanding and resources on how to encourage cervical screening uptake amongst minority groups in their communities. We are also working with the NHS Cervical Screening Programme to develop better data so we can identify and target non-attenders.

In 2015 we launched a new video resource called "Your Guide to Cervical Screening (smear test)" which is aimed at raising awareness of cervical screening to women with low literacy from a BAME background. Find out more about this resource.

See full survey results >

Read the press release on the survey >


Read more research >

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Date last updated: 
19 Jul 2019