July 25, 2011

IconCampaign sees greatly increased uptake in cervical screenings

An awareness-raising campaign has greatly increased the number of lesbian and bisexual women accessing cervical screening services in the North West, with surveys suggesting a 49% rise in attendance.

The Lesbian and Gay Foundation’s “Are You Ready For Your Screen Test?” campaign used short films, games and viral marketing to dispel myths around cervical screening, and raise awareness of the fact that lesbian and bisexual women require regular cervical screening tests.

Two surveys involving almost 1000 lesbian and bisexual women living in the North West of England were conducted shortly before and after the awareness-raising campaign. In the first survey, 49% of respondents had been for a cervical screening test within NHS recommended timescales, and 70.5% of respondents of an eligible age had been screened within the past five years.

The second survey indicated an impressive rise in the number of screening tests, with 73% of respondents having been for a cervical screening test within recommended timescales – an apparent increase of 49% – and 79% having been screened within the past five years. This last figure compares favourably with the 80% of the general population who have been screened within five years.

51% of women at an eligible screening age reported a change in their behaviour as a result of the campaign, and 96% felt that the campaign was effective. However, 93% felt that more should be done to teach health professionals about the needs of lesbian and bisexual women.

The surveys were sampled opportunistically, meaning that the figures do not necessarily reflect the activities of the wider population. However, they clearly indicate the impact that the “Screen Test” campaign has had upon hundreds of women.

“The findings of the report highlight the overwhelming need for, and benefit of targeted campaigns like Are You Ready For Your Screen Test? on a wider geographical scale, to ensure that lesbian and bisexual women get appropriate information about their health and the services available to them,” said Annie Emery, Programme Manager at the Lesbian and Gay Foundation.

“We will now be pushing forward with the report’s recommendations, including encouraging LGB specific training for health professionals, sexual orientation monitoring, developing partnership work, and more targeted, appropriate and accurate information for lesbian and bisexual women.”

Read more at the LGF website.

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