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EPV248/#405 A thematic analysis of knowledge and misinformation among cervical cancer radiotherapy patients at a tertiary hospital in South Africa
  1. H Simonds1,
  2. R Williams2 and
  3. R Roomaney2
  1. 1Stellenbosch University, Radiation Oncology, Cape Town, South Africa
  2. 2Stellenbosch University, Department of Psychology, Cape Town, South Africa


Objectives The high prevalence and burden of cervical cancer in developing countries has spurred on much research into preventing and screening for the disease. However, little research has focussed on the experience of living with the disease and undergoing treatment for it in South Africa. In this study we aim to report on the knowledge, misinformation, stigma and disclosure hesitancy among women receiving curative treatment for cervical cancer at a tertiary hospital in South Africa

Methods Inclusion criteria included being between the ages of 18 and 50 years and having undergone curative treatment for invasive cervical cancer, which resolved no more than 18 months prior to interviewing them. We conducted semi-structured interviews. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analysed using thematic analysis.

Results Fifteen women between the ages of 28 to 49 years old participated in the study. We describe these 15 participants’ knowledge and understanding of cervical cancer, their experience of misinformation and stigma and a hesitancy to disclose their illness to others. Participants reported that they knew very little about cervical cancer, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. Women reported that they encountered misinformation and that in some cases this led to delays in diagnosis. One prominent negative perception that they encountered was the association of cervical cancer with promiscuity. Overall, participants seemed hesitant to disclose their diagnosis with others.

Conclusions We highlight the central role that communication can play in increasing knowledge, reducing stigma and misinformation, and facilitating disclosure among women with cervical cancer. We include recommendations for healthcare practitioners and researchers.

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