Health Literacy, Knowledge on Cervical Cancer and Pap Smear and Its Influence on Pre-Marital Malay Muslim Women Attitude towards Pap Smear

Document Type: Research Articles

Authors

1 Department of Primary Care Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Selayang Campus, 68100 Selayang, Selangor, Malaysia.

2 The Maternofetal and Embryo Research Group (MatE), Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Sungai Buloh Campus, 47000 Sungai Buloh, Selangor, Malaysia.

3 Department of Population Health and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Sungai Buloh Campus, 47000 Sungai Buloh, Selangor, Malaysia.

4 Centre for Population Health (CePH), Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

5 South East Asia Community Observatory (SEACO), Jeffery Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Monash University Malaysia.

Abstract

Background: Cervical cancer is preventable. In Malaysia, women are found to have good awareness of the disease and yet, the Pap smear uptake is still poor. Measuring health literacy level could explain this discrepancy. This study aims to determine the relationship between health literacy, level of knowledge of cervical cancer and Pap smear with attitude towards Pap smear among women attending pre-marital course. Methods: A cross sectional study was performed in three randomly selected centres that organised pre-marital courses. All Malay Muslim women participants aged 18 to 40 years old were recruited while non-Malaysian, illiterate, and had hysterectomy were excluded. Validated self-administered questionnaires used were European Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLS-EU-Q16 Malay) and Knowledge and attitude towards Cervical Cancer and Pap Smear Questionnaire. The mean percentage score (mean± SD) was calculated, with higher scores showed better outcomes. Multiple linear regression was used to measure the relationship of independent variables with attitude towards Pap smear. Results: A total of 417 participants were recruited with a mean age of 24.9 ± 3.56 years old. Prevalence of awareness of cervical cancer was 91.6% (n=382, 95% CI: 89.0%, 94.2%) and mean percentage score was 74.7%±7.6. Prevalence of awareness of Pap smear was 59.0% (n=246, 95% CI: 54.2%, 63.8%) and mean percentage score was 80.2% ± 6.5. The health literacy mean score was 13.3±3.6, with minimum score 0 and maximum score 16. The mean percentage score of attitudes towards Pap smear was 64.8%±9.3. Multiple linear regression analysis demonstrated significant relationship between health literacy (p=0.047) and knowledge of Pap smear (p<0.001) with attitude towards Pap smear. Conclusion: A higher health literacy with high knowledge of Pap smear improves the attitude towards Pap smear. Pre-marital course is an opportunistic platform to disseminate information to improve health literacy and knowledge of cervical cancer and Pap smear screening.

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