Cervical Cancer Screening Strategies for Aboriginal Women




Cervical cancer mortality in Canada has been reduced by 70% over the past 50 years; however Aboriginal women in BC are estimated to have Pap rates of 50% compared to 85% for all BC women. Mortality from cervical cancer is six times higher among Aboriginal women than other women in BC. Previous qualitative research studies examined reasons for the reduced rate of screening among Aboriginal women, and recommended interventions to improve screening rates among this population. This research project built on previous studies and focused on awareness and evaluation of current interventions to encourage cervical cancer screening among Aboriginal women.


A qualitative research design was used, and purposive sampling was employed to identify key informants. Key informant interviews were conducted.


Findings include these suggestions to increase Aboriginal women’s participation in cervical cancer screening:
1) build partnerships in Aboriginal communities;
2) educate women from a young age about the importance of cervical cancer screening and the importance of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in preventing cervical cancer;
3) create brochures and other educational material that reflect the lives of Aboriginal women;
4) organize a day or week dedicated to Pap screening;
5) bring services to the women who live in remote communities;
6) offer drop-in appointments; and
7) use creative technology for hard-to-reach populations.


Fostering cultural respect and cultural safety are central to building relationships in Aboriginal communities. Aboriginal health agencies are very receptive to the idea of working together with provincial health programs to design and carry out projects of mutual concern and benefit, including projects related to cervical cancer screening. Qualitative research can play an important role in informing and supporting the work of provincial health programs.

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