Knowledge, attitudes and usage of cancer screening among West African migrant women


Correspondence: Olayide Ogunsiji, Lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Building G10, Room 62, Hawkesbury Campus, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia. Telephone: +61 2 4570 1897.



Aims and objectives

To explore West African migrant women's knowledge, attitude and usage of cancer screening in Australia.


Despite strong evidence that cancer screening saves lives through early detection and treatment, there is lack of empirical studies on West African migrant women's knowledge, attitude and usage of cancer screening in Australia.


Qualitative naturalistic inquiry.


Twenty-one West African migrant women who consented to participate in the study were recruited through a snowballing technique. These women were engaged in face-to-face audiotaped in-depth interviews which lasted for about 90 minutes. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and thematically analysed.


The following three themes emerged from the data: knowledge of cancer screening, attitude towards cancer screening and usage of cancer screening Irrespective of the women's place of birth in Africa, twenty of the participants had no knowledge of cancer screening prior to migration, and most had a negative attitude towards screening. Women who had given birth after migrating to Australia were more likely to have had cervical cancer screening. Women who had passed their child-bearing years or had not presented to healthcare facilities for medical issues were more likely to be unaware of cancer screening.


Improved health promotion strategies that provide accessible information and education to West African migrant women regarding cancer screening are required to enhance the uptake of such screening in this migrant group.

Relevance to clinical practice

Nurses who encounter West African migrant women in their day-to-day practice have the opportunity to provide this group with education related to the importance of cancer screening.