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Cervical Cancer Screening Among College Students in Ghana: Knowledge and Health Beliefs
  1. Peter N. Abotchie, MPhil, MPH* and
  2. Navkiran K. Shokar, MA, MD, MPH
  1. * Center for Health Promotion & Prevention Research, University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston; and
  2. Department of Family Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Peter N. Abotchie, MPhil, Center for Health Promotion & Prevention Research, University of Texas School of Public Health, 7000 Fannin, Ste. 2510E, Houston, TX 77030. E-mail: Peter.N.Abotchie{at}


Background: Cervical cancer is the most incident cancer and the leading cause of cancer mortality in women in Ghana. Currently, little is known about Ghanaian women's knowledge and beliefs about cervical cancer screening, yet this information is essential to the success of cervical cancer screening programs. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to describe the knowledge and beliefs of female university college students in Ghana.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey among college women in a university in Ghana elicited information about sociodemographics, knowledge and beliefs, and acceptability of cervical cancer screening, screening history, and sexual history. Bivariate analyses were conducted to identify factors associated with screening.

Results: One hundred forty women were recruited; the age range was 20 to 35 years. The prior Papanicolaou (Pap) screening rate was 12.0%. The women were unaware of local screening initiatives, and only 7.9% were aware of the link between human papillomavirus and cervical cancer. The most prevalent barriers were lack of awareness that the purpose of Pap screening is to diagnose cancer, concerns about what others may think, and lack of information about how to obtain screening services. Although women perceived the benefits of screening, only about half perceived themselves to be at risk. Women received few screening cues. Three barriers were negatively associated with screening in bivariate analyses: lack of belief that cancer is diagnosed by cervical screening, belief that Pap test is painful, and belief that the test will take away virginity.

Conclusion: New screening programs in Ghana should address these barriers and increase screening cues to the public.

  • Cervical cancer screening
  • Health beliefs
  • Ghanaian women

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