The researchers did this study to explore self-reported cervical screening history and barriers to attendance among women who have been sexually abused and to identify measures to improve the experience of cervical screening for these women.

The researchers invited the women visiting the website of the NAPAC, who had been sexually abused, to complete a survey. The views were about their views and experiences of cervical screening. Content analysis was used to code responses to the open questions. Four women also participated in a discussion group.

One hundred and thirty-five women completed the closed questions. One hundred and twenty-four provided open-ended responses. 77.5% of responding women who were eligible for cervical screening in England had ever attended, 48.5% at least once in the previous 5 years, but 42.1% of women within 3 years. A total of nine higher-order themes were identified related to barriers to screening.

The study concluded that women who have experienced sexual abuse are less likely to attend regular cervical screening, with under half screened in the last 5 years compared to the National Health Service Cervical Screening Programme figure of 78.6%.