Socioeconomic Inequalities Identified In Uptake Of Cervical Cancer Screening

A working paper published by NUI Galway economists points to important differences in uptake of cervical cancer screening.

The study compared uptake of cervical cancer screening in Ireland, Northern Ireland, England and the US. It found that while cervical cancer is known to be more prevalent among those from lower socio-economic groups, uptake of screening in Ireland, England and the US all evidenced a pro-rich inequality, the better off were more likely to avail of it.

By contrast in Northern Ireland, the less well-off were more likely to avail of it; a pro-poor inequality was evident. This was driven by the behaviour of Catholics where a marked pro-poor inequality was evident, no such inequality being evident among Protestants.

While incidence rates and mortality rates associated with cervical cancer have been shown to evidence a pro-poor pattern (poor people are more likely to have and to die from cervical cancer), the study results show that in Ireland, England and the US a pro-rich pattern of screening exists. Why Northern Ireland should evidence a pro-poor pattern of service use and why Catholics in particular should do so is unclear but suggests that opportunities exist for shared learning.

NUI Galway researchers point to this as an example of how economists can help inform cancer control policies. Further work by economists from NUI Galway will be presented at the Inaugural Economics of Cancer Research Symposium to be hosted by NUI Galway on Monday 2nd September. The Symposium, funded as part of a Health Research Board (HRB) Knowledge Exchange and Dissemination Scheme (KEDS) initiative, will include presentations that explore various economic aspects of cancer care, policy formulation and research.

Professor Ciaran O'Neill, Dean of Business, Public Policy and Law said: "Every decision has an economic dimension. Whether or not an individual decides to avail of screening, a government decides to fund a particular service or a pharmaceutical company decides to invest in a new treatment, choices are made; choices that have consequences for individuals, families and society. If we are to have an effective cancer control strategy it is crucial that we understand how choices are made, what impact they have and how we might seek to improve upon them. While research at NUI Galway has helped inform the development of policy in Ireland we recognise that no one individual or group has all the questions let alone all the answers. This symposium and the Group it will launch will create an international forum where we can explore the issues and seek answers to the questions together."


Related Irish News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

22 September 2011
300,000 Women Benefit From Free Cancer Checks
Free cervical cancer checks in Ireland have helped diagnose over 100 women. More than 300,000 free cervical cancer checks were carried out in Ireland between September 2009 and August 2010. Out of these, 145 women were diagnosed with the disease.
17 August 2007
Delay In Irish Cancer Screening Programme
The National Cancer Screening Programme, which was promised for November has been delayed. The programme was set up under the establishment of the National Cancer Screening Service (NCSS) Board in January 2007, and is aimed at reducing the number of cancer deaths a year.
23 January 2012
European Cervical Cancer Week Commences
Fine Gael have highlighted European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, calling on women to take greater care over thier health. The week began on Sunday and runs from to January 28, with awareness events taking place nationwide.
08 August 2019
CervicalCheck In Need Of 'Root And Branch Reform'
Ireland's CervicalCheck is in need of "root and branch reform" in light of the MacCraith Report. Speaking this morning on foot of reports that CervicalCheck sent letters with incorrect smear test results to 400 women, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O'Reilly TD, said that the situation was "almost surreal".
03 September 2012
Call For Women To Raise Funds For Cancer
The Irish Cancer Society is calling on every woman in Ireland to come together and Get the Girls doing something throughout the months of September and October to combat breast cancer.