Understanding cervical cancer screening barriers among migrant women: a qualitative study with healthcare and community workers in portugal

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Cervical cancer screening (CCS) has been proven to reducing mortality of cervical cancer; yet migrant women show a lower participation in screening compared to non-migrants. This study explores the perspectives of healthcare workers and community workers on the factors influencing the CCS participation of migrant women living in Portugal. A qualitative study with online focus groups was conducted. Healthcare workers experienced in CCS and community workers working with migrant communities were purposively sampled. A semi-structured guide was used covering the participation of migrant women in CCS, barriers, and strategies to overcome them. Data were analyzed using content analysis. Participants considered that migrant women have low participation in CCS related to insufficient knowledge, low risk perception, and lack of interest on preventive care. Other barriers such as difficulties in accessing the healthcare services, relationship with healthcare workers, language, and cultural differences were highlighted. Promoting continuity of care, disseminating culturally tailored information, and use of self-sampling methods were suggested to improve participation in CCS. Inequalities in access to CCS among migrant women are mostly caused by information gaps and healthcare system-related barriers. Building a migrant-friendly healthcare system that creates opportunities for healthcare workers to establish relationships with their patients and delivering culturally and linguistically adapted information may contribute to overcoming those barriers and increasing the participation of migrant women in screening.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7248
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2021


  • Cervical cancer screening
  • Community workers
  • Healthcare workers
  • Migrant women
  • Sexual health


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