Self-collection of cervico-vaginal samples for human papillomavirus (HPV) testing has the potential to make cervical cancer screening more accessible to underscreened women. We evaluated the acceptability and ease of use of home-based HPV self-collection within a diverse population of low-income, infrequently screened women.
Participants were low-income women from North Carolina who had not received Pap testing in 4 or more years. Eligible women received a self-collection kit containing instructions and a brush for home-based sample collection. A total of 227 women returned a self-collected sample by mail and completed a questionnaire to assess their experiences with HPV self-collection. We described acceptability measures and used logistic regression to identify predictors of overall positive thoughts about the self-collection experience.
Nearly all women were willing to perform HPV self-collection again (98%) and were comfortable receiving the self-collection kit in the mail (99%). Overall, 81% of participants reported positive thoughts about home-based self-collection. Women with at least some college education and those who were divorced, separated or widowed were more likely to report overall positive thoughts. Aspects of self-collection that participants most commonly reported liking included convenience (53%), ease of use (32%) and privacy (23%). The most frequently reported difficulties included uncertainty that the self-collection was done correctly (16%) and difficulty inserting the self-collection brush (16%).
Home-based self-collection for HPV was a highly acceptable screening method among low-income, underscreened women and holds the promise to increase access to cervical cancer screening in this high-risk population.