Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Determinants of women’s participation in cervical cancer screening trial, Maharashtra, India

Bhagwan Nene, Kasturi Jayant, Silvina Arrossi, Surendra Shastri, Atul Budukh, Sanjay Hingmire, Richard Muwonge, Sylla Malvi, Ketayun Dinshaw, Rengaswamy Sankaranarayanan


To determine the factors associated with participation in cervical cancer screening and follow-up treatment in the context of a randomized controlled trial. The trial was initiated to evaluate the efficacy and cost effectiveness of visual inspection with acetic acid, cytological screening and testing for human papillomavirus in reducing the incidence of and mortality from cervical cancer in Maharashtra, India.


Between October 1999 and November 2003 women aged 30–59 years were randomized to receive one of the three tests or to a control group. Participation was analysed for all three intervention arms. The differences between those who were screened versus those who were not was analysed according to the sociodemographic characteristics of the 100 800 eligible women invited for screening. Those who were treated versus those who were not were analysed according to the sociodemographic characteristics of the 932 women diagnosed with high-grade lesions. Participation in screening and compliance with treatment were also analysed according to the type of test used.


Compared with women who were not tested, screened women were younger (aged 30–39), better educated and had ever used contraception. A higher proportion of screened women were married and a lower proportion had never been pregnant. Of the 932 women diagnosed with high-grade lesions or invasive cancer, 85.3% (795) received treatment. Women with higher levels of education, who had had fewer pregnancies and those who were married were more likely to comply with treatment. There were no differences in rates of screening or compliance with treatment when results were analysed by the test received.


Irrespective of the test being used, good participation levels for cervical cancer screening can be achieved in rural areas of developing countries by using appropriate strategies to deliver services. Communication methods and delivery strategies aimed at encouraging older, less-educated women, who have less contact with reproductive services, are needed to further increase screening uptake.