Objective: Despite Australia’s National Cervical Screening Program, Indigenous women have a disproportionately high burden of cervical cancer. We describe temporal and area-level patterns in prevalence of histologically conformed high-grade cervical abnormalities (hHGA) among cytologically screened women by Indigenous status.
Methods: This was a population-based study of 2,132,925 women, aged 20–69, who underwent cervical screening between 2008 and 2017, in Queensland, Australia. Of these, 47,136 were identified as Indigenous from linked hospital records. Overall patterns in hHGA prevalence by Indigenous status were quantified using prevalence rate ratios (PrRR) from negative binomial models. Bayesian spatial models were used to obtain smoothed prevalence estimates of hHGA across 528 small areas compared to the state average. Results are presented as maps and graphs showing the associated uncertainty of the estimates.
Results: Overall, screened Indigenous women had significantly higher hHGA prevalence than non-Indigenous women. However, the magnitude of the difference reduced over time (p < 0.001). Adjusted for age and area-level variables, Indigenous women had 36% higher hHGA prevalence (PrRR 1.36, 95% confidence interval [1.21–1.52]) than non-Indigenous women between 2013 and 2017. The overall effect of age decreased over time (p = 0.021). Although there was evidence of moderate spatial variation in 10-year prevalence estimates for both groups of women, the high levels of uncertainty for many estimates, particularly for Indigenous women, limited our ability to draw definitive conclusions about the spatial patterns.
Conclusions: While the temporal reduction in Indigenous: non-Indigenous differential in hHGA prevalence is encouraging, further research into the key drivers of the continuing higher risk among Indigenous women is warranted.