What does cancer screening mean to women from deprived neighbourhoods

  • L. Gatting
  • M. Kotzur
  • K. Robb


Background: People from more socioeconomically deprived areas are less likely to attend cancer screening and experience worse cancer survival rates. This study aimed to explore how cancer screening is discursively constructed in the accounts of women from deprived neighbourhoods and how this may influence screening behaviour. Methods: Interviews were conducted with 21 women, aged 52 to 64 years, from deprived neighbourhoods in Glasgow, UK. Eleven women had participated in all three of breast, cervical and bowel screening and ten had participated in none, according to their NHS records. Thematic Analysis, informed by constructionism, was used to interpret the data. Findings: Three themes developed through the analysis; Theme 1 (‘need’ to ‘just do it’) described the ways in which cancer screening was constructed as good, sensible and responsible, alongside a ‘just do it’ rhetoric. Theme 2 (‘knowing’ if ‘something is wrong’) described how participants focused on knowing (or not) if something was wrong (or not) with their bodies. Women who had not done any screening stated that people can know their own bodies (without screening). Theme 3 (The procedure) covered how participants described the different screening procedures. Discussion: This study provided insight into barriers to screening uptake that go beyond the individual. For example, popular discourse around needing to ‘just do it’ worked to suppress informed decision making. A greater understanding of deprived women’s relationships with cancer screening can be used to inform public health campaigns. Such interventions may benefit from exploiting the ‘just do it’ rhetoric.
Oral presentations