Community engagement in the development of cervical cancer educational programs in rural Nigeria

  • Ishola F
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Background: In Nigeria, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women 15 to 44 years of age. About 14,089 cervical cancer cases and 8240 cervical cancer deaths occur annually. Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) Screen and Treat approach for cervical cancer prevention has been proven as safe, effective and appropriate in resource poor settings like Nigeria; however, it needs to be complemented with cervical cancer education and awareness that resonate with the target population. This study aims to understand women's perception of cervical cancer and their preferences on cervical cancer information delivery with a view to developing culturally appropriate cervical cancer educational programs. Methods: This qualitative study utilized semi structured one to one interviews and focus group discussions for data collection and occurred between January and March 2015 in Ifon community, Osun State. Thirty three participants purposively sampled included 15 local women, 4 peer educators, 9 cervical cancer survivors and 5 community health workers aged 20 to 69 years living or working in the target community. Informed consent was obtained from participants and participation was voluntary. Interviews and FGDs were audiotaped, transcribed and analyzed for recurring themes and patterns. Findings: Women had little or no knowledge of cervical cancer and the availability of screening services. There were various myths and misconceptions regarding cervical cancer, its causes and treatment. Women preferred interpersonal, one on one verbal communication with individuals familiar with the people and culture of the community such as community health workers, religious and community leaders, volunteers and survivors. They believed contextualization of cervical cancer information will improve comprehension and that the use of frequently visited forums such as village meetings, women's groups, religious gatherings, and traditional healing centres will help to reach more women with cervical cancer information. Interpretation: Perspective of the community is vital in the development of culturally appropriate cervical cancer educational programs. Cervical cancer education initiatives should be adapted to local context. It should also be interpersonal and community driven with genuine community ownership and participation.




Ishola, F. (2016). Community engagement in the development of cervical cancer educational programs in rural Nigeria. Annals of Global Health, 82(3), 425.

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