Home Institution

University of Colorado at Boulder

Publication Date

Fall 2004

Program Name

South Africa: Community Health


The aim of this study was to conduct a brief investigation into the awareness, attitudes and practices regarding cervical cancer among women living in Keiskammahoek, a rural area in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. The objectives of this study were to:

• Determine if screening is available within a localized rural community and the methods that are being used.

• Determine if women are coming in for screening, the demographics of these women, and the circumstances that bring them into PHC clinics.

• Investigate the level of knowledge and education about cervical cancer and prevention among women within the community of research.

• Investigate the reasons women are not coming in for screening.

• Investigate stigma that surrounds both pap smears and cervical cancer in general.

• Make recommendations both for improving the current system as well as for future study.

• Create awareness about cervical cancer after conducting research.

To achieve these objectives, four interviews with healthcare professionals were conducted. Additionally, five percent of the population of women living in the village immediately surrounding Masincedane Clinic, one of the ten Primary Health Care Clinics in Keiskammahoek was surveyed. Finally, an interview was conducted with the head of a new screening program for cervical cancer in Keiskammahoek.

The following results were found:

• Pap smears are available for free for all women at each clinic in Keiskammahoek, but they are for diagnostic purposes only; no consistent screening policy is in place.

• The sister at the clinic of interest, Masincedane Clinic, has taken an initiate to try to screen women despite the fact that there is currently no program in place.

• The level of awareness of cancer, especially cervical cancer is extremely low among the women served by the Masincedane Clinic.

• Among women who have knowledge about cervical cancer, very few know that pap smears help prevent developing the disease.

• The majority of women who had a pap smear in their lifetimes did not know that they were being screened for cervical cancer, and many never got their results.

• A large population of women who had not heard of a pap smear expressed interest in having one.

• The main barriers keeping women from coming in for screening are a lack of awareness, fear of the exam itself and fear of having cancer.


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Public Health Education and Promotion


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