Barriers to cervical cancer screening experienced by lesbian women: a qualitative study.J Clin Nurs. 2016 Dec; 25(23-24):3643-3651.JC
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
To provide deeper insights into the experiences of lesbian women in accessing cervical cancer screening and to inform strategies to increase the uptake of these services for this group of women.
Lesbian women continue to face significant health disparities and are at increased risk for specific medical conditions. With cervical cancer being largely a preventable disease, early detection through the Papanicolaou test is crucial, as it enables treatment to commence early and limit the progression of the disease. Although the rates of cervical abnormalities among lesbian women are similar to that of the general population, lesbian women are less likely to have regular cervical screening. The reasons for this are largely unknown and there is a paucity of research that explores cervical cancer screening in lesbian women.
Qualitative descriptive design.
Participants (n = 9) were recruited via media release and those living in New South Wales who self-identified as lesbian, meeting the inclusion criteria were recruited for the study. Semi-structured, face to face and telephone interviews were used to obtain narrative data from lesbian women on their experiences of cervical screening.
Three main themes emerged from the data: 'Lack of opportunistic screening'; 'Fear of penetration' and 'Encountering heterosexism and discrimination'.
This current study builds on existing knowledge and further, has identified issues that have not been previously raised in the literature. New findings from this study highlight participants' fear of penetration, and stigma associated with accessing information, as substantial barriers to cervical screening.
RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE
This study's findings can guide future research and highlight possibilities for specific strategies to reduce health disparities among lesbian women.