Perspectives on self-sampling for cancer screening among rural and urban women: Multilevel factors related to acceptability

Kelsey C. Stoltzfus, Madyson L. Popalis, Paul L. Reiter, Jennifer L. Moss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Self-sampling tests may be used to overcome barriers to screening that are more prevalent in rural populations compared to urban populations. This study aims to qualitatively examine the attitudes toward established and novel self-sampling tests for cervical and colorectal cancer among women, comparing themes from rural versus urban areas. Methods: We recruited women (ages 45-65) from 28 counties in Pennsylvania. Four focus groups were conducted with women from metropolitan counties, and 7 focus groups were conducted with women from nonmetropolitan counties. A brief survey was conducted prior to the focus group regarding general health and willingness to complete self-sampling tests for cervical and colorectal cancer. Findings: We identified 3 themes about the potential for self-sampling for cancer screening: advantages and disadvantages of self-sampling compared to traditional testing, impact of self-sampling on patient interactions with their health care providers/clinics, and implications for improving/worsening access to quality health care services. We detected differences in responses from rural versus urban participants in the potential impact of self-sampling for cancer screening. Conclusions: There are several barriers and facilitators at the individual, interpersonal, and organizational levels that influence the feasibility of implementing self-sampling for cancer screening in routine clinical practice. Rural participants face unique barriers to cancer screening across all levels. These findings can be used to guide interventions aimed at increasing the use of self-sampling methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Rural Health
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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