Original article| Volume 23, ISSUE 2, e123-e130, March 2013

Acceptability and Usability of Self-Collected Sampling for HPV Testing Among African-American Women Living in the Mississippi Delta

Published:February 14, 2013DOI:



      Human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing has been shown to be an effective approach to cervical cancer screening, and self-collection sampling for HPV testing could be a potential alternative to Pap test, provided that women who tested positive by any method get timely follow-up and care. This feasibility study examined acceptability and usability of self-collected sampling for HPV testing among African-American (AA) women in the Mississippi Delta to inform the development of interventions to promote cervical cancer screening in this population.


      The study consisted of two phases. Phase I consisted of eight focus groups (n = 87) with AA women to explore knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about cervical cancer and HPV infection as well as acceptability of self-collected sampling for HPV testing. In phase II, we examined the usability of this technology through one discussion group (n = 9). The Health Belief Model guided data collection and analysis.


      Although participants perceived themselves as susceptible to cervical cancer and acknowledged its severity, there was a lack of knowledge of the link between HPV and cervical cancer, and they expressed a number of misconceptions. The most frequent barriers to screening included embarrassment, discomfort, and fear of the results. Women in both phases were receptive to self-collected sampling for HPV testing. All participants in the usability phase expressed that self-collection was easy and they did not experience any difficulties.


      Self-collection for HPV testing is an acceptable and feasible method among AA women in the Mississippi Delta to complement current cytology cervical cancer screening programs.
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      Isabel C. Scarinci, PhD, MPH, is a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her primary area of interest is development, implementation, and evaluation of community-based cancer prevention and control programs that are theoretically based and culturally relevant to African Americans and Latinos.


      Allison G. Litton, DrPH, MSW, is a public health evaluation consultant and contributing public health faculty for Walden University. Her research and teaching interests are in program evaluation and health disparities in diverse populations.


      Isabel C. Garcés-Palacio, DrPH, is a cancer researcher, professor of the epidemiology group of the School of Public Health at University of Antioquia in Medellin, Colombia. Her research interest focuses primarily on cervical and breast cancer prevention in underserved populations.


      Edward E. Partridge, MD, is the director of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is the PI of the NCI-funded Deep South Network for Cancer Control, a community-based collaborative effort addressing cancer prevention and control among African Americans in Alabama and Mississippi.


      Philip E. Castle, PhD, MPH, is the Executive Director of the Global Cancer Initiative and a Visiting Professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. His primary research interests are the epidemiology/natural history of human papillomavirus and cervical cancer and the application of that knowledge for cervical cancer prevention.