Limited Understanding of Pap Smear Testing among Women, a Barrier to Cervical Cancer Screening in the United Arab Emirates

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Primary Health Care Sector, Dubai Health Authority, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

2 Department of Academic Affairs, Tawam Hospital, College of Medicine, UAE University, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.

3 Department of Medical Education, Dubai Health Authority, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.


Global data indicate that cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women worldwide. Important factors that affect interventions for early diagnosis of cervical cancer include social beliefs and values and poor knowledge. These may contribute to women’s participation in screening for cervical cancer and have a significant impact on decisions to take preventive action. The present study was conducted with 599 women in the UAE between September 2016 and March 2017. A cross-sectional survey was conducted to determine knowledge about cervical cancer and screening, demographic characteristics and perceived barriers. Knowledge about the Pap smear test was limited, and awareness that they should undergo the Pap smear test every three years even with an initial negative/normal Pap smear result was abysmal. In spite of the positive attitude of the women towards the Pap smear test, almost 80% of the women surveyed had no knowledge of precancerous lesions. Having higher income (21/29, 72%, p=0.027) and more miscarriages were associated with better practice of Pap smears (19/26, 73%, p=0.010). Knowledge levels were significantly higher (66.3±22.2,) that values for attitude (60.5±20.9, p= 0.03, 95% CI {0.22-11.3}, Chi-square 4.38) and practice (53.7 24.1, p= 0.001, 95% CI {6.9-18.1}, Chi-square 19.7). A well-designed health education programme on cervical cancer and benefits of screening should increase the awareness among women in UAE. One point to stress is that better communication with health professionals and improvement of access to health care services should increase the rate of cervical cancer screening.


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