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Outcomes from a mass media campaign to promote cervical screening in NSW, Australia
  1. Stephen Morrell1,2,
  2. Donna A Perez1,
  3. Margaret Hardy1,
  4. Trish Cotter1,
  5. James F Bishop1
  1. 1Cancer Institute NSW, Australia
  2. 2School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Margaret Hardy, Cancer Institute NSW, P O Box 41 Alexandria 1435, Australia; Margaret.hardy{at}


Background Despite the decline in the incidence of cervical cancer in Australia as a result of population screening, a substantial proportion of women in NSW screen less regularly than the recommended two-yearly interval or do not screen. With higher rates of cervical cancer in unscreened and underscreened women, and despite the introduction of the human papillomavirus vaccine, there remains a need to continue to remind women to screen. The mass media has been shown to be effective at improving participation in cervical screening. A 2007 television advertising campaign to promote cervical screening in New South Wales (NSW) was examined.

Methods Data from the NSW Papanicolaou (Pap) Test Register were used to compare weekly numbers of Pap tests for NSW overall and in metropolitan local government areas with low screening rates by age group and by time since the last Pap test. Time series regression analysis incorporating seasonal effects was used to estimate the strength of the association between screening and the media campaign.

Results Overall during the advertising campaign, 15% more screens (16 700) occurred than expected for 2007 without the advertising campaign. Increases were evident among unscreened and underscreened women, with little overscreening occurring. Women living in low screening areas also showed a significant increase in mean weekly screens of 21% (388) over that expected in the absence of the media campaign.

Conclusions Despite the ecological nature of this study, the mass media campaign appears to have been successful in increasing screening in unscreened and underscreened women in NSW.

  • Pap test
  • cervical
  • mass media
  • social marketing
  • cancer screening
  • cancer: cervix
  • health education SA
  • health related behav
  • prevention PR

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.