Human Papillomavirus and Cervical Cancer Knowledge, Perceptions, and Screening Behavior: A Cross-Sectional Community-Based Survey in Rural Philippines

Document Type: Research Articles

Authors

1 School of Tropical Medicine and Global Health, Nagasaki University, Nagasaki, Japan.

2 Department of Community-based Rehabilitation Sciences, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Nagasaki University, Nagasaki, Japan.

3 Section of Ultrasound, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Philippines Manila, Philippine General Hospital, Philippines.

Abstract

Background: Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the Philippines. Cervical cancer screening is an effective method to reduce incidence. However, screening utilization is limited. This study aims to assess human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer knowledge, perceptions, and screening utilization, and to investigate factors influencing screening utilization among rural women in the Philippines. Methods: This cross-sectional community-based study was conducted among 338 rural women aged 20–50 years, with a child under 5 years old registered in one of four public rural health centers in Tacao Island, Masbate Province in October 2017. A questionnaire administered via face-to-face interviews elicited information about demographic characteristics, knowledge, perceived susceptibility and perceived severity of HPV and cervical cancer, and cervical cancer screening utilization. Results: Mean age of participants was 32.5 years. Only 13.9% of participants had ever had cervical cancer screening. Although most women had heard of cervical cancer screening, their knowledge about the cause, risk factors, and preventive measures of HPV and cervical cancer was limited. Older age and higher education status were significantly associated with screening utilization. However, knowledge and perceived susceptibility and severity showed no association. The main reason for having screening was due to a health professional’s request or recommendation, and the reasons for not having screening were cost, not having symptoms, and fear of pain or discomfort and/or embarrassment during the procedure.  Conclusions: Health education must increase knowledge about HPV and cervical cancer and screening among women, including the nature and progression of cervical cancer, benefits of screening, screening cost, and screening procedure. Health care providers have an important role in educating and motivating women to undergo screening.

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