Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women's views of cervical screening by self-collection: A qualitative study

Lisa J. Whop, Tamara L. Butler, Natasha Lee, Joan Cunningham, Gail Garvey, Kate Anderson, John R. Condon, Allison Tong, Suzanne Moore, Clare M. Maher, Jacqueline K. Mein, Eloise F. Warren, Julia M.L. Brotherton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Objective: This study aimed to describe Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women's views of self-collection introduced in the renewed National Cervical Screening Program. 

Methods: A total of 79 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander women (50 screened in previous five years, 29 under-screened) from five clinics across three Australian states/territories participated. Topics discussed were perceptions of self-collection, the instruction card and suggestions for implementing self-collection. We employed yarning (a qualitative method), which established relationships and trust between participants and researchers to facilitate culturally safe conversations. Transcripts were analysed thematically. 

Results: Most women were unaware of self-collection before the yarn but found it to be an acceptable way to participate in cervical screening. Women perceived self-collection would be convenient, provide a sense of control over the screening experience, and maintain privacy and comfort. The instructions were perceived to be simple and easy to follow. Women had concerns about collecting the sample correctly and the accuracy of the sample (compared to clinician-collected samples). 

Conclusions: Self-collection is acceptable to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. 

Implications for public health: Given the inequitable burden of cervical cancer experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, self-collection is likely to significantly improve participation and ultimately improve cervical cancer outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-169
Number of pages9
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Issue number2
Early online date3 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funded Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) in Targeted Approaches To Improve Cancer Services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians (TACTICS; #1153027), the NHMRC‐funded CRE in Discovering Indigenous Strategies to improve Cancer Outcomes Via Engagement, Research Translation and Training (DISCOVERTT; #1041111), and the Cancer Council NSW Strategic Research Partnership to improve cancer control for Indigenous Australians (STREP Ca‐CIndA; SRP 1301, with supplementary funding from Cancer Council WA). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funders. LJW was funded by an NHMRC Early Career Fellowship (#1142035). TB was supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award (#IN190100050) funded by the Australian Government. JCu was funded by an NHMRC Research Fellowship (#1058244). GG was funded by an NHMRC Investigator Grant (#1176651). AT was supported by an NHMRC Career Development Fellowship (#1106716).

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