Cancer screening in the context of women's health: Perceptions of body and self among women of different ages in urban Sweden

Article English OPEN
Widmark, Catarina ; Lagerlund, Magdalena ; Ahlberg, Beth Maina ; Tishelman, Carol (2010)
  • Publisher: Co-Action Publishing
  • Journal: International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being (issn: 1748-2631)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3402/qhw.v3i2.4978

Most research on cervical cancer screening from the perspective of the involved women tends to focus on issues specifically related to screening participation, knowledge and information needs or experiences. Our previous research in this area indicated a need to investigate women's perspectives on cancer screening within a broader framework. Therefore, in this study, we aim to understand better, how women reason about health, ill health, health maintenance and disease prevention, in relation to cancer prevention and screening. We conducted twelve focus group discussions in Sweden with 49 women between the ages of 21 and 74 years. The findings indicate that women's reasoning about different aspects of "control"* physical, physiological, emotional and social*was central in understanding their view on cancer prevention and screening. The desire for and burden of maintaining control appeared to affect their decisions and attitudes toward cervical cancer screening, with health maintenance described as having a "high price". Whereas some women motivated their screening attendance as a means of maintaining control, others described abstaining from screening which appeared to threaten their sense of control. It was also found that women reason differently about mammography and cervical cancer screening, which is contrary to assumptions guiding research in this area. Key words: Women's health, cervical cancer screening, vaginal smears, mammography, psychosocial oncology, focus group
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