Chinese women rarely undergo regular cervical screening. Women’s decisions about cervical screening may be influenced by their perception of the risk of cervical cancer. Therefore, understanding how women perceive the risk of cervical cancer, how personal risk factors are interpreted, and the influence of cultural issues on cervical screening behavior is important.
The aim of this study is to understand cervical cancer risk perception and the role of personal risk factors as they influence screening behavior among Chinese women.
An exploratory qualitative research design was used. We conducted semistructured, in-depth interviews of 27 women in Changsha, a medium-size city in Hunan province, China.
Participants identified that cervical cancer had serious consequences, but they distanced themselves psychologically from the disease because they felt that “cervical cancer is a shameful and deadly disease.” Although women identified some of the risk factors for the disease, they had little specific knowledge of human papillomavirus infection, its association with cervical cancer, and the importance of cervical screening.
This study contributes new knowledge to the understanding of cervical screening behavior within a specific social and cultural context. Better efforts should be made to educate Chinese women on the risk of cervical cancer and emphasize that effective cancer treatments are available and that there is a good chance of survival.
Implications for Practice:
Nurses working with Chinese women should ensure that the information they provide is culturally sensitive, particularly by acknowledging the normative beliefs of this population group.