Determinants of cervical cancer screening in a poor area: results of a population-based survey in Rivas, Nicaragua.
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To obtain baseline information for designing a community-based intervention programme aimed at increasing the cervical cancer screening coverage of women most at risk. METHODS: A population-based survey, using proportional stratified two-stage cluster sampling in Rivas, one of the 16 Departments of Nicaragua. The individuals selected were interviewed at home by one of 26 interviewers, using a structured questionnaire. The questionnaire was designed to elicit (1) knowledge, attitudes and practices concerning sexual and reproductive health and behaviour, (2) risk factors for cervical cancer and (3) the use of health and cervical cancer screening services. RESULTS: A total of 612 men and 634 women participated in the survey. Of the women who had been sexually active at least 3 years, only 41.1% had undergone screening within that period and were considered adequately screened. Correlates of inadequate screening status included low educational level, exclusive use of public health facilities and lack of knowledge about prevention and symptoms of cervical cancer. Negligence, absence of medical problems, fear, lack of knowledge and economic reasons were the main reasons given for not being screened. Reluctance to be screened in the future was related to lack of knowledge of the disease, inadequate screening status, older age and low educational level. CONCLUSIONS: The current screening programme is not effective in reaching the majority of the population. Complementary activities such as education and information, as well as a more pro-active approach to invite women for screening are necessary.