There is little literature available about the acceptability of self-collection in rural African settings. Researchers did this study to characterize Malawian women’s willingness to self-collect vaginal samples for HPV testing and identify potential barriers. Obtained data was from the baseline wave of a community-based cohort study.

Researchers enrolled participants from the catchment area of a clinic in rural Lilongwe District, Malawi.

The researchers enrolled 824 women. Participants answered questions assessing willingness to self-collect a sample for HPV testing, concerns about testing, and other hypothesized correlates of willingness to self-collect.

Approximately two-thirds of the women reported willingness to self-collect a vaginal sample in their homes. Awareness of cervical cancer, supportive subjective norms, perceived behavioral control, and analysis positively associated clinician recommendations with increased willingness to self-collect samples for HPV testing. The study identified concerns that the test might hurt, that they might not do the test correctly and that the test might not be accurate as barriers to self-testing.

This study concluded that that self-collection for HPV testing could be an acceptable cervical cancer screening method in this rural population. Findings identify modifiable beliefs and barriers that can inform the development of effective screening programs.