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Acceptability of extending HPV-based cervical screening intervals from 3 to 5 years: An interview study with women in England

Nemec, Martin; Waller, Jo; Barnes, Jessica; Marlow, Laura AV; (2022) Acceptability of extending HPV-based cervical screening intervals from 3 to 5 years: An interview study with women in England. medRxiv: USA. Green open access

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Abstract

Objectives: The introduction of primary HPV testing in the NHS Cervical Screening Programme in England means the screening interval for 25-49-year-olds can be extended from 3 to 5 years. We explored women’s responses to the proposed interval extension. Methods: We conducted semi-structured phone/video interviews with 22 women aged 25-49 years. Participants were selected to vary in age, socioeconomics, and screening history. We explored attitudes to the current 3-year interval, then acceptability of a 5-year interval. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using Framework Analysis. Results: Attitudes to the current 3-year interval varied; some wanted more frequent screening, believing cancer develops quickly. Some participants worried about the proposed change; others trusted it was evidence-based. Frequent questions concerned the rationale and safety of longer intervals, speed of cancer development, the possibility of HPV being missed or cell changes occurring between screens. Many participants felt reassured when the interval change was explained alongside the move to HPV primary screening, of which most had previously been unaware. Conclusions: Communication of the interval change should be done in the context of broader information about HPV primary screening, emphasising that people who test negative for HPV are at lower risk of cell changes so can safely be screened every 5 years. The long time needed for HPV to develop into cervical cancer provides reassurance about safety, but it is important to be transparent that no screening test is perfect.

Type: Working / discussion paper
Title: Acceptability of extending HPV-based cervical screening intervals from 3 to 5 years: An interview study with women in England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1101/2022.01.12.22269119
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1101/2022.01.12.22269119
Language: English
Additional information: The copyright holder for this preprint is the author/funder, who has granted medRxiv a license to display the preprint in perpetuity. It is made available under a CC-BY 4.0 International license.
Keywords: cervical screening, HPV testing, information, intervals, acceptability, understanding
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Behavioural Science and Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10155376
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