14 February 2003
Women with disabilities are less likely than other women to have regular Pap smears because they feel health professionals are insensitive to their needs, among other factors.
Melbourne researchers interviewed 25 women with sensory, intellectual, psychiatric or physical disabilities and found that transport, building access, cost factors and the attitudes of health professionals were barriers to having Pap smears.
'Some [professionals] did not think that women with disabilities were likely to have (or have had) active sexual lives,' the researchers from La Trobe University's Australian Research Centre in Sex Health and Society said.
'[Other people] had very bad experiences with doctors in the past, and this made it difficult to have Pap tests. Some women moved often and so did not have a regular doctor or did not receive reminder letters.'
PapScreen Victoria, which funded the study, has developed a 2-year strategy aimed at increasing cervical screening opportunities for these women.
GPs and other health professionals will be targeted.
Last Reviewed: 14 February 2003