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Optimising human papillomavirus self-testing for high risk women


Objectives Human papillomavirus self-tests that can be used at home and returned by mail may increase cervical cancer screening rates. Growing evidence suggests that self-test methods could increase screening for high-risk and hard-to-reach populations. The purpose of this study was to identify which self-test device women prefer and why.

Methods Four focus groups were conducted with 30 high-risk women in two rural and two urban counties in North Carolina. Women evaluated three self-test devices: the Pantarhei screener (a lavage that releases liquid into the vagina and re-collects fluid), the Qiagen cervical brush (a brush that women insert into the vagina and is turned around to collect cells) and the Fournier cervical self-sampling device (a tampon-like plastic wand).

Results The majority of women reported that they would use the brush (70%), followed by the wand (67%) and the lavage (43%). Women from urban areas appeared to prefer the brush, whereas women from rural areas endorsed the wand. Women reported liking the lavage because it seemed easy to use; they liked the wand because of its inviting colour (green), and liked the brush because of its small size and familiarity. Women reported disliking the lavage because the liquid seemed messy and unsanitary, disliked the wand due to the 15–20 recommended turns, and disliked the brush because it was short and the tip seemed abrasive.

Conclusions No one device was perfect, although suggestions for an optimal self-test most resembled the brush. These findings can be used to develop an optimal self-test collector for women.

  • Cancer prevention
  • cervical cancer
  • cervical cancer screening
  • HPV
  • self-collection
  • self sampling
  • self-test

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