Table 1

Frequency of the 19 codes in a random sample of 2000 comments made in response to the petition

Code descriptionExample%
Theme 1: Valuing women’s health, gender and women’s rights 82.4
Valuing women’s health and valuing women*“Every woman matters.” “I have three daughters and I want them to be healthy”32.6
Personal or family/friend experience with cervical cancer/cervical abnormalities/other cancers“I have friends who had cancerous and pre-cancerous cells on routine Pap smears BEFORE age 25.” “I had an abnormal Pap smear result at 23, it could’ve been cancer by 24 and under these new changes I wouldn’t have known until I was 25!?”22.0
Support for principles of disease prevention/early detection“Prevention is better than cure!”14.1
Gender and males making decisions for/about females and women’s health“Why should a man, who will never get cervical cancer, decide my fate.” “Time to let women have control, choice and safety over their own bodies!”7.6
Right/entitlement of women to healthcare/Pap smears“As women and taxpayers, we have a right to full healthcare.”4.2
A step backwards/policy regression“This is a huge step backwards for women’s rights.”1.9
Theme 2: Political statements 13.6
Political, encompassing:
Comments against the Prime Minister, the Liberal party; government as a whole
“The government is going too far this time.” “The amount of money the government waste on things of little to no importance and then to cut back on something as important as this just doesn’t make sense.”13.6
Theme 3: Cost and healthcare funding concerns 19.3
Cost cutting“This is just another government cost-cutting exercise.”9.9
Access to health services: healthcare funding and affordability of tests“Healthcare should be free in the lucky country.” “It is vital that Pap smears are affordable to all women.”5.7
Early detection will save money in the long run“The government think they are saving money with this program, but they don’t think of the financial burden on the health care system when there is an increase in women’s cancers as a result.”3.7
Theme 4: Opposition to specific components of screening programme changes 36.2
Opposition to extended (5-yearly) screening interval“Five years is far too long between tests.”16.7
Concern about missing cancer cases in young women (<25 years of age)“Young woman under the age of 20 can still get this cancer—25 is too late!”9.1
Concern about missing cancer cases in older women (>74 years of age) or fear of ageism“After 74 you don’t matter?”1.6
Preference for the status quo“I believe the conventional Pap smear screening is a great preventative program”4.7
Disagreement with HPV test itself“Not all cervical cancers are caused by HPV.”2.6
Sexual activity—age of first invitation to screen should be dependent on age of sexual activity or should generally be earlier due to earlier age of sexual activity“Pap smears should be available from when sexual activity starts as most young girls these days are having sex very young.”1.5
No specific reason stated 10.4
No reason stated for opposition“This is important.”5.7
Emotional response, with no further reason for opposition stated“This is disgusting.” “I don’t want to die.”3.9
  • *Valuing women’s health was a code used in conjunction with other codes 70.2% of the time. The most frequent codes used in conjunction were (in order of frequency): disease prevention/early detection (9.5%), cost cutting (9.4%), politics (8.6%), concern about screening interval (7.7%), right/entitlement (6.0%) and gender (5.5%).

  • HPV, human papillomavirus.