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He Tapu Te Whare Tangata: Exploration of the cervical screening clinical pathway

By Ms Anna Adcock (Ngāti Mutunga) and Dr Kendall Stevenson (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Kurī, Ngāpuhi)

New Zealand’s National Cervical Screening Programme (NCSP) has effectively decreased rates of cervical cancer incidence and mortality, but has not provided equal success for Māori. Technological innovation provides an opportunity to address these inequities.

Ms Anna Adcock (Ngāti Mutunga) and Dr Kendall Stevenson (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Kurī, Ngāpuhi), Victoria University of Wellington

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) causes cervical cancer, and the HPV test, which can be self-taken with a vaginal swab, is a more effective screen for preventing cervical cancer than cytology. Through a Ministry of Health grant this research team has shown HPV self-testing is acceptable for Māori women and are now carrying out a successful Health Research Council-funded clinical trial offering the HPV self-test to never/under-screened women in Northland. After 12 months, more than half of the eligible women (in the intervention group) have been screened.

But a knowledge gap has been found about the lived experiences of women when offered the test, when screened, and when journeying to diagnosis/treatment. This project aims to look at these issues and knowledge gaps to inform NCSP policy to address cervical cancer inequities for Māori. The research team argues the entire cervical screening clinical pathway must be culturally responsive and guided by patient experience to be successful.

How will it help people affected by cancer?

This research will fill in knowledge gaps around how HPV self-testing should be implemented in the new NCSP. Potential barriers and facilitators to accessing HPV based screening and specialty/diagnostic services will be explored. Ultimately, this research aims to address cervical cancer inequities for Māori by informing a more culturally responsive and patient led clinical pathway.