Interventions to increase uptake of cervical screening in sub-Saharan Africa: A scoping review using the integrated behavioral model

Breanne E. Lott, Mario J. Trejo, Christina Baum, D. Jean McClelland, Prajakta Adsul, Purnima Madhivanan, Scott Carvajal, Kacey Ernst, John Ehiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Background: Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) experiences disproportionate burden of cervical cancer incidence and mortality due in part to low uptake of cervical screening, a strategy for prevention and down-staging of cervical cancer. This scoping review identifies studies of interventions to increase uptake of cervical screening among women in the region and uses the Integrated Behavioral Model (IBM) to describe how interventions might work. Methods: A systematic search of literature was conducted in PubMed, Web of Science, Embase, and CINAHL databases through May 2019. Screening and data charting were performed by two independent reviewers. Intervention studies measuring changes to uptake in screening among women in SSA were included, with no restriction to intervention type, study setting or date, or participant characteristics. Intervention type and implementation strategies were described using behavioral constructs from the IBM. Results: Of the 3704 citations the search produced, 19 studies were selected for inclusion. Most studies were published between 2014 and 2019 (78.9%) and were set in Nigeria (47.4%) and South Africa (26.3%). Studies most often assessed screening with Pap smears (31.6%) and measured uptake as ever screened (42.1%) or screened during the study period (36.8%). Education-based interventions were most common (57.9%) and the IBM construct of knowledge/skills to perform screening was targeted most frequently (68.4%). Willingness to screen was high, before and after intervention. Screening coverage ranged from 1.7 to 99.2% post-intervention, with six studies (31.6%) reporting a significant improvement in screening that achieved ≥60% coverage. Conclusions: Educational interventions were largely ineffective, except those that utilized peer or community health educators and mHealth implementation strategies. Two economic incentivization interventions were moderately effective, by acting on participants' instrumental attitudes, but resulted in screening coverage less than 20%. Innovative service delivery, including community-based self-sampling, acted on environmental constraints, striving to make services more available, accessible, and appropriate to women, and were the most effective. This review demonstrates that intent to perform screening may not be the major determinant of screening behavior, suggesting other theoretical frameworks may be needed to more fully understand uptake of cervical screening in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly for health systems change interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number654
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 11 2020


  • Cervical cancer
  • Health behavior
  • Review
  • Screening
  • Secondary prevention
  • Sub-Saharan Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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