Impact of media reporting of cervical cancer in a UK celebrity on a population-based cervical screening programme

G. J. MacArthur, Melissa Wright, Helen Beer, Shantini Paranjothy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives To determine the impact of media reporting of cervical cancer in a UK celebrity on cervical screening uptake, response time and colposcopy referral and attendance. Setting Population-based national cervical screening programme for women in Wales, UK. Methods A time series regression analysis of the Welsh national cervical screening and colposcopy databases was used to examine the number of smear tests carried out between 2000 and 2010, stratified by age group and deprivation indicators. Logistic regression was used to analyse colposcopy attendance. Results Over 33,000 more cervical screening tests than expected were carried out in the year of media reporting (2008/9), 11,539 (35%) of which were in the month of Jade Goody's death. The largest increase was evident in women aged 35?39 years (475 additional tests per month, 95% CI 331?619). Impacts were similar across deprivation quintiles. Colposcopy referrals increased by 18% during the year of media reporting. Increases were observed for all smear test results in 2008/9, particularly among younger women, and further rises were evident in 2009/10 for smear tests showing borderline changes and mild dyskaryosis. The proportion of women attending colposcopy appointments rose in the year of media reporting (?2 = 45.8, P <0.001). Conclusions Mass media reporting of cervical cancer in a UK celebrity was associated with a significant, but transient, increase in screening uptake and colposcopy referral and attendance. Mass media reporting can play a role in enhanced detection of abnormalities, but public health messages must be communicated effectively to minimize anxiety whilst maximizing case-finding and uptake among non-responders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-209
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Medical Screening
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011

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