This study aimed to investigate the status of cervical cancer screening (CCS) implementation in Europe by investigating national or regional policies towards broadening coverage of CCS amongst vulnerable subgroups of the population at high risk for CC.
A web-based survey was conducted between September 2021 and February 2022 with CCS programme managers and experts to identify and rank six population subgroups at high risk considered most vulnerable to CC and to map existing policies that addressed the coverage of CCS towards population sub-groups at risk.
A total of 31 responses were received from experts covering 22 European countries. The results of this survey suggest that whilst many countries identify lower coverage of CCS amongst population subgroups at high risk of CC as a public health problem, few countries have developed dedicated policies towards broadening coverage among these subgroups. The six countries who reported having done so were concentrated in the Northern or Western European regions, suggesting the existence of geographical disparities within the continent. A key challenge in this respect is the difficulty to categorize subgroups of the target population; many individuals are burdened by intersectionality thereby resting in multiple categories, which may hinder the effectiveness of interventions targeted to reach specific subgroups.
A greater clarity on the conceptualization of vulnerability can help countries to develop and subsequently implement strategies to increase coverage to subgroups of the target population currently underserved with regards to CCS.
- Widening cervical screening coverage, vulnerable women, policies