Knowledge of and barriers to cervical screening in the first invited cohort (25-29 year olds) and last (60-64 year olds)

This research was commissioned by Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust and launched during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2014 (Jan 19-25, 2014). All figures, unless otherwise stated, are taken from Censuswide; total sample size was 2,021 women aged 25-29 and 60-64 and fieldwork was undertaken between 6 and 12 December 2013. The survey was commissioned in order to look at awareness levels for the disease and attitudes towards cervical screening amongst the first (25-29) and last (60-64) age groups eligible for the NHS cervical screening programme. The most recent* figures show that 1 in 3 25-29 year olds fail to attend screening when invited and screening attendance in older women is lower than it was 18 years ago.

Key findings:

  • Almost a third (31%) of women do not know what causes cervical cancer
  • Over half (54%) fail to link the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) to its development
  • 16% of women recognise non-attendance of cervical screening as a risk factor
  • 13.7% believed that screening was a test that checked the health of the womb
  • One in 10 women aged 25-29 thought it was a test for sexually transmitted diseases
  • One in five of those surveyed believed cervical cancer to be hereditary
  • Over a quarter (26%) of 25-29 year olds worried the procedure would be painful and embarrassing
  • One in 10 25-29 year olds worried about what the results would say
  • For those aged 60-64, 16.4% had had a previous bad experience
  • 14.7% of 60-64 year olds had experienced pain since going through the menopause

The results of this survey are used to highlight the issues of non-attendance of screening for young and older women as well as the barriers for these age groups. Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust has since created and run a major public awareness campaign; #SmearForSmear targeting young women and encouraging more of them to attend screening. For older women the charity has since commissioned further research to understand barriers to screening amongst this age group.

* Cervical Screening Programme, England 2014-15, Published by HSCIC, November 10th 2015

See full survey results

Read the press release on the survey

Date last updated: 
15 Feb 2016