Document Type

Dissertation

Rights

This item is available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use only

Disciplines

Family studies

Publication Details

Sucessfully submitted for the award of MA in Child, Family and Community Studies to the Dublin Institute of Technology, 2008.

Abstract

This study had three aims: to determine the prevalence of the risk-factors for contracting HPV (the Human Papillomavirus) and developing cervical cancer among young women; to establish if there are any links between the presence of these risk-factors, attendance for cervical screening and abnormal cervical screening results; and to ascertain the key barriers to the prevention of cervical cancer. The risk-factors were identified from literature as being sexually active at a young age, having increasing numbers of sexual partners for females and their partners, having had a sexually transmitted infection/disease (STI), smoking and long-term use of the oral contraceptive pill. The research was conducted through a quantitative, self-completion internet survey, completed by 242 women aged 18-24 attending a third-level institute and analysed using SPSS (the Statistical Package for Social Sciences). The findings showed that the prevalence of the sexual behaviour risk-factors tended to occur concurrently; being sexually active before age 17 was linked to increasing numbers of sexual partners and the occurrence of STIs. The findings also showed that approximately one-quarter of participants had attended for cervical screening, of which, over one-third reported abnormal results. Additionally, the findings demonstrated that the presence of the abovementioned sexual behaviour risk-factors tended to increase the likelihood of cervical screening attendance and the reception of an abnormal result. The key barriers to the prevention of cervical cancer were identified as a lack of knowledge about the primary and secondary prevention of cervical cancer: HPV and cervical screening respectively. The present study recommended that firstly, as the prevalence of the risk-factors appear to be increasing, cervical screening should be initiated from age 20 onwards, on the basis of the presence of the risk-factors, rather than being age-standardised at 25, and secondly, greater education and communication on the primary and secondary prevention of cervical cancer should be disseminated to adolescents and young people.

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