Background: Despite the decline in cervical cancer incidence 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 un- and under-screened women, and despite the introduction of the Human Papillomavirus vaccine, there remains a need to continue to remind women to screen. Mass media has been shown to be effective at improving participation in cervical screening. Accordingly, we examine a 2007 television advertising campaign to promote cervical screening in New South Wales (NSW) women.
Methods: Data from the NSW 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 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 un- and under-screened women, with little over-screening occurring. Women living in the 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 un- and under-screened NSW women.
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