Research

School-based human papillomavirus vaccination: An opportunity to increase knowledge about cervical cancer and improve uptake of screening

Greta Dreyer, Frederick H van der Merwe, Matthys H Botha, Leon C Snyman, Deborah Constant, Cathy Visser, Justin Harvey

Abstract


Background. Poor knowledge about cervical cancer plays a role in limiting screening uptake. HPV vaccination provides an untested platform to distribute information that could possibly improve knowledge and screening coverage.

Objective. To measure changes in knowledge and screening uptake when information and screening opportunities were provided to mothers of adolescent HPV vaccine recipients.

Methods. During an HPV vaccine implementation project in the Western Cape (WC) and Gauteng Province (GP), South Africa, information about cervical cancer was provided to parents during a lecture, written information was distributed, and mothers were then invited to either screen at their clinic (WC) or use a self-screening kit (GP). A structured questionnaire was used to test cervical cancer knowledge and screening practices, comparing these before and after the project and between the two screening groups.

Results. Complete data for both questionnaires were available for 777 of 906 recruited women. Initial knowledge was poor, but on retesting 6 months later, knowledge about symptoms (p<0.005), screening (p<0.005) and vaccination (p<0.05) improved significantly after the information session and school-based HPV vaccination. In the second questionnaire, women reported significantly more screening and the last reported screening test was more recent. This improvement was more favourable in GP than in the WC (41% v. 26% reporting screening in the past 12 months).

Conclusion. These results demonstrate how adolescent HPV vaccine programmes can help to control cervical cancer among mothers by offering information and screening. It is important not to lose this opportunity to educate mothers and their daughters and offer effective methods to prevent cervical cancer in both generations.

Authors' affiliations

Greta Dreyer, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Gynaecological Oncology Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Frederick H van der Merwe, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Unit for Gynaecological Oncology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa

Matthys H Botha, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Unit for Gynaecological Oncology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa

Leon C Snyman, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Gynaecological Oncology Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Deborah Constant, Women’s Health Research Unit, School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Cathy Visser, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Gynaecological Oncology Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Justin Harvey, Centre for Statistical Consultation, Stellenbosch University, Western Cape, South Africa

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Keywords

Cervical cancer screening; HPV; School-based vaccination

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2015;105(11):912-916. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2015.v105i11.9814

Article History

Date submitted: 2015-06-03
Date published: 2015-10-09

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