Knowledge of Risk Factors, Symptoms and Barriers to Seeking Medical Help for Cervical Cancer among Omani Women Attending Sultan Qaboos University Hospital

Mohammed H. Al-Azri, Maytha Al-Saidi, Eman Al-Mutairi, Sathiya M. Panchatcharam


Objectives: This study aimed to assess knowledge and attitudes among Omani woman regarding cervical cancer risk factors and symptoms as well as barriers to them seeking medical help. Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted between December 2017 and March 2018 at the Sultan Qaboos University Hospital (SQUH) in Muscat, Oman. A validated Arabic-language version of the Cervical Cancer Awareness Measure questionnaire was used to collect data from 550 Omani women visiting SQUH during the study period. Results: A total of 490 women participated (response rate: 89.1%) in this study. Overall, the women demonstrated low levels of knowledge of cervical cancer risk factors and symptoms (28.5% and 45.0%, respectively). The most frequently recognised risk factor was having many children (36.1%), while the most recognised symptom was unexplained vaginal bleeding (69.8%). Women reported that being too scared was the greatest barrier to seeking medical help (68.0%). Various factors were significantly associated with greater knowledge of cervical cancer signs and symptoms including education level (odds ratio [OR] = 2.85; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.0–8.22; P <0.05), income (OR = 4.34; 95% CI: 1.70–11.12; P <0.05), parity (OR = 3.59; 95% CI: 1.38–9.36; P <0.05) and a family history of cancer (OR = 1.71; CI: 1.0–2.90; P <0.05). Conclusion: Overall, Omani women demonstrated poor knowledge with regards to cervical cancer; in addition, they identified several emotional barriers to seeking medical help. Healthcare practitioners should reassure female patients to encourage care-seeking behaviour. A national screening programme is also recommended to increase awareness and early diagnosis of cervical cancer in Oman.

Keywords: Cervical Cancer; Knowledge; Awareness; Risk Factors; Health Care Seeking Behavior; Women; Oman.

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Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, PO Box 35, Postal Code 123, Al-Khod, Muscat, Oman

ISSN (Print edition): 2075-051X ISSN (Internet edition): 2075-0528

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