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Qualitative study of barriers to cervical cancer screening among Nigerian women
  1. Fatima Isa Modibbo1,*,
  2. Eileen Dareng2,3,*,
  3. Patience Bamisaye4,*,
  4. Elima Jedy-Agba2,5,*,
  5. Ayodele Adewole6,
  6. Lawal Oyeneyin6,
  7. Olayinka Olaniyan2,7,
  8. Clement Adebamowo8,9
  1. 1Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, National Hospital Abuja, Abuja, Nigeria
  2. 2Department of Research, Institute of Human Virology, Abuja, Nigeria
  3. 3Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  4. 4Department of Nursing Services, National Hospital, Abuja, Nigeria
  5. 5Department of Non-communicable Disease Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  6. 6Mother and Child Hospital, Ondo, Nigeria
  7. 7Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, National Hospital, Abuja, Nigeria
  8. 8Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  9. 9Institute of Human Virology and Greenebaum Cancer Centre, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Fatima Isa Modibbo; zahra.modibbo{at}


Objectives To explore the barriers to cervical cancer screening, focusing on religious and cultural factors, in order to inform group-specific interventions that may improve uptake of cervical cancer screening programmes.

Design We conducted four focus group discussions among Muslim and Christian women in Nigeria.

Setting Discussions were conducted in two hospitals, one in the South West and the other in the North Central region of Nigeria.

Participants 27 Christian and 22 Muslim women over the age of 18, with no diagnosis of cancer.

Results Most participants in the focus group discussions had heard about cervical cancer except Muslim women in the South Western region who had never heard about cervical cancer. Participants believed that wizardry, multiple sexual partners and inserting herbs into the vagina cause cervical cancer. Only one participant knew about the human papillomavirus. Among the Christian women, the majority of respondents had heard about cervical cancer screening and believed that it could be used to prevent cervical cancer. Participants mentioned religious and cultural obligations of modesty, gender of healthcare providers, fear of disclosure of results, fear of nosocomial infections, lack of awareness, discrimination at hospitals, and need for spousal approval as barriers to uptake of screening. These barriers varied by religion across the geographical regions.

Conclusions Barriers to cervical cancer screening vary by religious affiliations. Interventions to increase cervical cancer awareness and screening uptake in multicultural and multireligious communities need to take into consideration the varying cultural and religious beliefs in order to design and implement effective cervical cancer screening intervention programmes.


This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See:

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