Ethnic minority women are less likely to attend cervical screening. Researchers did this study to explore self-perceived barriers to cervical screening attendance among ethnic minority women compared to white British women. The present study is a qualitative interview study.

Researchers conducted the study in community groups in ethnically diverse London boroughs. They carried out interviews with forty-three women from various ethnic minority backgrounds and eleven White British women. Interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using Framework Analysis.

Ethnic minority women felt a lack of awareness about cervical cancer in their community, and several did not recognize the terms ‘cervical screening’ or ‘smear test’. Barriers to cervical screening raised by all women were emotional, practical, and cognitive. Emotional barriers seemed to be more prominent among Asian women. Beliefs influenced the low perceived risk of cervical cancer about having sex outside of marriage, and some women felt a diagnosis of cervical cancer might be considered shameful.

The study concluded that emotional barriers and low perceived risk might explain more inadequate cervical screening coverage for some ethnic groups. Investment in training for health professionals may improve experiences and encourage repeat attendance for all women.