Effective female education on cervical cancer prevention has been shown to increase awareness and uptake of screening. However, sustaining increase in uptake poses a challenge to control efforts. Peer health education has been used as an effective tool for ensuring sustained behavior change. This study was undertaken to assess the effectiveness of peer health education on perception, willingness to screen and uptake of cervical cancer screening by women.
A before and after intervention study was undertaken in 2 urban cities in Enugu state, Nigeria among women of reproductive age attending women's meeting in Anglican churches. Multistage sampling was used to select 300 women. Peer health education was provided once monthly for 3 consecutive sessions over a period of 3 months. Data was collected at baseline and after the intervention using pre-tested questionnaires. Descriptive statistics and tests of significance of observed differences and associations were done at p-value of <0.05.
Statistical significant difference was observed in participants' individual risk perception for cervical cancer and perception of benefits of early detection through screening. Practice of screening for cervical cancer increased by 6.8% and the observed difference was statistically significant (p = 0.02). This was significantly associated with marital status, level of education, employment status and parity (p < 0.05).
Peer health education is an effective strategy for increasing women's perception of benefits of early detection of cervical cancer through screening. It is also effective for increasing their practice of screening for cervical cancer.