Sociodemographic inequities in cervical cancer screening, treatment and care amongst women aged at least 25 years : evidence from surveys in Harare, Zimbabwe

16 Jul 2020

BACKGROUND : Cervical cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women in Zimbabwe; however; access to screening and treatment services remain challenged. The objective of this study was to investigate socio-demographic inequities in cervical cancer screening and utilization of treatment among women in Harare, Zimbabwe. METHODS : Two cross sectional surveys were conducted in Harare with a total sample of 277 women aged at least 25 years. In the community survey, stratified random sampling was conducted to select 143 healthy women in Glen View, Cranborne, Highlands and Hopely communities of Harare to present high, medium, low density suburbs and rural areas respectively. In the patient survey, 134 histologically confirmed cervical cancer patients were also randomly selected at Harare hospital, Parirenyatwa Hospital and Island Hospice during their routine visits or while in hospital admission. All consenting participants were interviewed using a validated structured questionnaire programmed in Surveytogo software in an android tablet. Data was analyzed using STATA version 14 to yield descriptive statistics, bivariate and multivariate logistic regression outcomes for the study. RESULTS : Women who reported ever screening for cervical cancer were only 29%. Cervical cancer screening was less likely in women affiliated to major religions (p < 0.05) and those who never visited health facilities or doctors or visited once in previous 6 months (p < 0.05). Ninety-two (69%) of selected patients were on treatment. Women with cervical cancer affiliated to protestant churches were 68 times [95% CI: 1.22 to 381] more likely to utilize treatment and care services compared to those in other religions (p = 0.040). Province of residence, education, occupation, marital status, income (personal and household), wealth, medical aid status, having a regular doctor, frequency of visiting health facilities, sources of cervical cancer information and knowledge of treatability of cervical cancer were not associated with cervical cancer screening and treatment respectively. CONCLUSION : This study revealed few variations in the participation of women in cervical cancer screening and treatment explained only by religious affiliations and usage of health facilities. Strengthening of health education in communities including churches and universal healthcare coverage are recommended strategies to improve uptake of screening and treatment of cervical cancer.