Effectiveness of a Health Education Program to Improve Knowledge and Attitude Towards Cervical Cancer and Pap Smear: A Controlled Community Trial in Malaysia

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Craniofacial and Biomaterials Sciences Cluster, Advanced Medical and Dental Institute, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Bertam, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia.

2 Kolej Pembantu Perubatan Alor Setar, Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia.

3 School of Dental Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Health Campus, Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, Malaysia.


Objective: We examined the effectiveness of a health education program to improve; knowledge and attitude towards cervical cancer and Pap smear, and uptake of Pap smear test among female entrepreneurs in Kedah, a northern state of Malaysia. Methods: This controlled community trial involved 210 women from the districts of Alor Setar and Sungai Petani. Simple random sampling was applied to select 105 women from each district. Self-administered questionnaires were used to obtain information about the variables of interest. Health education intervention program included educational talk, demo video, experience sharing, pamphlet distribution, and text message reminders. Evaluation of outcomes was performed twice. The text message reminders acted as the cues to action that were sent between the two evaluation times at one-month interval. Women in the control group received educational talk alone. In the control group, evaluation of outcomes was done only once, which was one month after the educational talk. Results: Knowledge on cervical cancer and Pap smear, and attitude towards Pap smear among women in both intervention and control group improved significantly at Evaluation stage 1. However, no further improvements were observed in the intervention group at Evaluation stage 2. The uptake of Pap smear in the intervention group increased significantly from 48.0% at Baseline to 68.0% at Evaluation stage 1 (P<0.001), and from 68.0% to 79.0% at Evaluation stage 2 (P<0.001). A significant increase in Pap smear uptake was also seen in the control group from 63.0% at Baseline to 76.0% at Evaluation stage 1 (P=0.003). Conclusions: Educational talk alone was effective in improving knowledge on cervical cancer and Pap smear, attitude towards the test, and the actual uptake of the test. However, text reminders were more effective than having an educational talk alone in increasing uptake of Pap smear test among participants.


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