Perspectives of Screening‐Eligible Women and Male Partners on Benefits of and Barriers to Treatment for Precancerous Lesions and Cervical Cancer in Kenya

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AbstractBackground.Cervical cancer is the leading cause of female cancer mortality in Kenya. Kenya’s National Cervical Cancer Prevention Program Strategic Plan outlines efforts to reduce the burden; however, treatment services remain limited. This study identified male and female perspectives regarding benefits, facilitators, and barriers to treatment for precancerous lesions and cervical cancer.Materials and Methods.Ten focus groups were conducted in Nairobi and Nyanza in 2014 with females aged 25–49 years (n = 60) and male partners (n = 40). Participants were divided into groups dependent on screening status, sex, language, and geographic location. Qualitative analytic software was used to analyze transcribed and translated data.Results.Treatment was endorsed as beneficial for the prevention of death and the improvement of wellness, quality of life, symptoms, and family life. Barriers reported by males and females included the following: (a) concerns about side effects; (b) treatment‐related fear and stigma; (c) marital discord; (d) financial and access issues; (e) religious and cultural beliefs; and (f) limited knowledge. Male endorsement of wanting to improve knowledge and communication with their partners, in spite of stigmatizing beliefs and misperceptions regarding females with abnormal screening results or those who have been diagnosed with cancer, was novel.Conclusion.Incorporating qualitative data on benefits of and barriers to treatment for precancerous lesions and cervical cancer into Kenya’s national priorities and activities is important. These findings can be used to inform the development and successful implementation of targeted, region‐specific community outreach and health messaging campaigns focused on alleviating the country’s cervical cancer burden.Implications for Practice.This article provides important insight into female and male partner perspectives regarding benefits, facilitators, and barriers to treatment for precancerous lesions and cervical cancer. These novel research findings can inform the development of targeted community health interventions, educational messages, and resources and aid stakeholders in strengthening strategic plans regarding treatment coverage and cervical cancer prevention. Because several treatment barriers identified in this study are similar to barriers associated with cervical cancer screening in low‐ and middle‐resourced countries, effective messaging interventions could address barriers to receipt of both screening and treatment.

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