Background: Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among Ghanaian women and screening coverage is low. ACCESSING is a cross-sectional study investigating human papillomavirus (HPV) prevalence via self-sampling in rural communities of the North Tongu district in Ghana. Female health-care providers (HCPs) were invited to self-collect a cervicovaginal sample with a commercial sampler in order to acquaint themselves with the sampling method.
Objective: This study set out to explore female HCPs' perceptions, advocacy for, and implications of self-sampling with the aim of enhancing self-sampling acceptability in the targeted screening population.
Methods: A mixed-methods approach was used, consisting of (a) a survey among 52 female HCPs working in a district hospital and (b) 10 one-to-one semi-structured interviews with purposefully sampled HCPs.
Results: The quantitative analysis of the survey (n = 52) showed that, among HCPs who took the sample themselves (50/52), all found it 'Easy' or 'Very Easy' and felt 'Very Comfortable' or 'Comfortable'. 82.7% indicated that they would undertake screening more often, and 98.1% indicated they would prefer self-sampling, if cervical cancer risk is as reliably determined as by clinician-directed cytobrush sampling. All interview participants (n = 10) indicated that they appreciated the program and would recommend the screening to their patients and/or family members and neighbours. Common reasons for preferring self-sampling were less (anticipated) pain compared to speculum examination and more privacy.
Conclusions: Self-sampling for cervical cancer screening is highly acceptable to female HCPs. Setting up a workplace screening program that entails the option of self-sampling could create greater awareness and positive attitudes among HCPs to educating their patients, families, and neighbours on cervical cancer risks and motivate HCPs to advocate for women's participation in screening.