Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Nicaragua - an estimated 18.43 deaths per 100,000 females in 2011. Access to health care is difficult in many Latin American countries due to educational, socioeconomic, and cultural barriers. The objective of this study was to identify specific barriers to screening adherence in a rural Nicaraguan community through qualitative measures in an effort to create a protocol to address them.
Through a community health initiative, eligible women (n=40) were invited to attend small group sessions hosted by local community leaders (n=11). Sessions were private to encourage candid conversation amongst participants. Data collected through questionnaires and structured discussion. All discussion topics were archived by researchers and coded for categories for qualitative analysis.
Participants identified multiple barriers to effective cervical cancer prevention in their community based on personal experience. Qualitative data was assigned to categories to develop the following themes: 1-Education barriers - poor health literacy, 2-Financial or physical barriers - Travel and clinic availability, 3-Familial, marital, religious barriers - community stigma, and 4-Fear of diagnosis or cancer. All participants agreed on the need to prevent cervical cancer and increase awareness in their community.
Our findings suggest that barriers to adequate cervical cancer prevention encompass several aspects of daily living for women in rural Nicaragua. Addressing these barriers to facilitate solutions may make the difference between life and death for these women. Additional studies will use identified themes for further survey development and program improvement to enhance cervical cancer prevention in this community.