What is known?
Australia’s cervical screening program and human papillomavirus vaccination program have reduced the cervical cancer burden in Australia to one of the lowest globally. However, Aboriginal and Torres Islander women continue to face a higher burden of cervical cancer than other Australian women, and they are less likely to participate in cervical screening. Within Queensland (one of the larger Australian states), cervical screening participation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is higher in North Queensland than the rest of the state.
What is new?
This study found evidence that participation was higher where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women had better access to culturally appropriate primary health care, and in particular, when it was provided by Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). However, better access to ACCHO primary care did not fully explain the higher participation in North Queensland.
What does this mean?
Improving access to primary health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, especially through ACCHOs, may reduce existing disparities in cervical screening participation. Further gains will require greater levels of local community engagement and understanding of the experiences of screened Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to inform effective interventions. Further investigation of other factors involved may help to inform strategies to improve cervical screening participation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women elsewhere in Queensland and throughout Australia.
Contact: Peter Baade
Reference: Dasgupta P, Condon JR, Whop LJ, Aitken JF, Garvey G, Wenitong M, Baade PD. Access to Aboriginal community-controlled primary health organizations can explain some of the higher Pap test participation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in North Queensland, Australia. Frontiers in Oncology. 2021. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2021.725145.