Document Type : Research Articles
Department of Allied Health Sciences College of Medicine and Health Sciences Sultan Qaboos University
Background: In developed countries, awareness of cervical cancer screening is well documented. In contrast, in Oman as a developing country, public responses regarding cervical screening are unclear. This study aimed to assess the level of awareness about cervical cancer and Papanicolau (Pap) smear testing and to establish any correlations between knowledge and demographic factors among Omani women. Methods: In this cross-sectional survey, participants were divided into three groups: patients who attended the Outpatient Gynecology Department in Sultan Qaboos University Hospital (SQUH), Oman, female staff from SQUH, College of Medicine and College of Nursing at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) and graduating female students at SQU. Data collection was through interview-based and online self-administered questionnaires. Cumulative scoring was used for data analysis. Results: There were 204 outpatients, 133 staff and 157 students. Outpatients (79.4%), staff (97.7%) and students (75.2%) had heard of cervical cancer. Nevertheless, their specific knowledge, regarding signs and symptoms, risk factors and Pap smear, was low at 38.7%, 35.3% and 7.6% among outpatients, staff and students, respectively. Some 39.9% of the married outpatients had adequate overall knowledge as compared to none of the single women. Educational level was found to be significantly associated with outpatient knowledge with the highest awareness levels among postgraduates and medical university graduates (61.5%). Conclusion: Specific knowledge of cervical cancer, its risk factors and cervical Pap smear is generally poor among Omani women. This lack of knowledge may be one of the contributing factors for the high incidence of cervical cancer in Oman relative to that in developed countries.