UK Women’s Cervical Cancer Prevention Policies

Introduction

This chapter includes an evaluation of a policy aimed at preventing cervical cancer among adult females. The National Health Service (NHS) provides several health care incentives that include the Cervical Screening Programme (CSP). This program has proved to be effective as the number of women diagnosed with cervical cancer has decreased during the past two decades (Labeit, Peinemann & Kedir 2013).

Numerous organizations (for-profit and charities) offer various services aimed at the decrease in the rate of women affected. For instance, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is one such organization. This paper includes a brief analysis of the efficiency of one of the organizations’ incentives. This incentive is aimed at raising awareness of cervical cancer prevention, its benefits, and its peculiarities.

Theoretical model applied

Before analyzing incentives and policies, it is important to mention the framework that will be used for the evaluation. Researchers and practitioners apply various models and strategies to assess the effectiveness of policies. One of the theoretical models employed is the social-ecological model that addresses several dimensions of policy (Orlowski 2015). These dimensions are individual, interpersonal, organizational, community, and policy.

It is important to evaluate the CSP in terms of these levels. The individual dimension will entail people’s views and attitudes as well as their motivations. The interpersonal level implies the focus on the programme’s effects in terms of the relations within families, between the patient and healthcare services provider, and so on. The organizational level includes the analysis of the way organizations align their practices and incentives with the programme and its goals and outcomes. Community dimension is one of the most important as it unveils the way the programme affects the development of communities and relationships within them.

Finally, the dimension of policy will include an analysis of the programme in terms of its consistency with other policies and the way it is implemented. It is necessary to note that the community and individual levels should be priorities as they mainly define people’s participation although other dimensions are also important. It is also possible to note that the principles of and some strategies employed in social work can also be instrumental in assessing the programme in question.

Thus, the two levels mentioned above are central to social work as well. Segal, Gerdes, and Steiner (2012) state that social workers often help people affected to choose the right programme. Moreover, social workers also collaborate with various organizations, which translates into effective incentives aimed at providing as much information on the benefits of a programme as possible.

The efficiency of the policy

The Cervical Screening Programme has proved to be effective as it contributed to the decrease in the number of women affected (Labeit, Peinemann & Kedir 2013). It is possible to analyze the programme in terms of the social-ecological model mentioned above. Within the policy dimension, the programme is rather effective as it is consistent with the vision and approach of the Department of Health that concentrates on innovation and prevention as well as extensive coverage of all the groups of people (Douglas et al. 2015). The vast majority of middle-class women take part in the programme. However, it is necessary to note that the programme lacks the universal approach as ethnic minority groups and females with low income are still unable to fully benefit from the CSP (Shack et al. 2008).

The programme is also quite efficient in terms of the community dimension. There is a certain discussion of the problem, and there is certain media coverage of the programme (Labeit, Peinemann & Kedir 2013). At the same time, women about ethnic minorities still have any doubts. The programme is not properly promoted within the communities of ethnic minorities and low-income households (Marlow, Waller & Wardle 2015). Women of color often stress that there is insufficient information on the programme, which prevents them from participating.

The organizational level reveals the effectiveness of the programme as well as its limitations. Numerous organizations advocate the rights of women and encourage them to participate in various healthcare programmes. These organizations often cover more diverse populations than such national agencies as NHS. For instance, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has organized various events and launched many programmes that target all groups of women (About Jo’s cervical cancer trust 2015). The focus is often on minority groups.

This dimension is closely connected with the interpersonal level as the organizations manage to create strong networks where people share information and support each other. At the same time, the level of interpersonal relations also stresses the limitation of the CSP. Females about ethnic minorities are unwilling to participate in the programme as they are afraid of being judged by their families and close ones (Marlow, Waller & Wardle 2015). Finally, the individual level also reveals the weakness of the programme that cannot address the needs of the diverse UK society. Females face numerous financial and social issues that prevent them from participating and benefiting from the programme.

A case study of an organization

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is a UK non-profit organization that focuses on females (and their families) who have been affected by cervical cancer as well as cervical abnormalities (About Jo’s cervical cancer trust 2015). One of the primary objectives of the organization is to help affected people and raise awareness about the problem in UK society. Therefore, the charity provides extensive information and 24/7 support to affected women and their families.

The support is provided through the online forum, an Ask the Expert service, community support units, and a helpline (About Jo’s cervical cancer trust 2015). The organisation raises people’s awareness and draws the public attention to the problem by telling stories of people who have been affected (Your stories: women affected by cervical cancer 2015).

The charity also launches a variety of incentives and programmes. The majority of these incentives are aimed at raising awareness and involving people. Raising awareness presupposes various workshops, discussions, events that facilitate sharing ideas. The involvement of people implies engagement in the affected people’s support and donation. The organization pays a lot of attention to involving entire communities in the struggle against the disease. The promotion of prevention incentives is an important aspect of the charity’s work.

The charity’s programme assessment

One of these interventions is the incentive under the title Cervical Screening Awareness Week (CSAW). This intervention is held across the United Kingdom through the organization’s facilities located in different parts of the country (Cervical Screening Awareness Week 2016). This programme aims to raise people’s awareness of cervical screening, its peculiarities, and its benefits. The target audience includes all UK females with a focus on ethnic minorities, low-income families, and women above 50 years old.

The programme can be evaluated about the CSP and the use of the social-ecological model. First, it is necessary to state that the incentive can be regarded as a facilitator of the Cervical Screening Programme. The incentive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust provides extensive information on cervical screening as well as the programme held by the UK government.

Thus, as for the policy dimension, the incentive in question is consistent with the CSP, which, in turn, is linked to the Healthy People 2020 goals (Satyanarayana, Desai & Chandra 2009). The aspect common for the CSP, the Healthy People 2020, and the CSAW is the focus on prevention and universal coverage. The programme’s consistency with the policies is one of its strengths. Its focus on all groups is also beneficial as the programme can involve women of many backgrounds as the organization has members about different socioeconomic layers. However, the weakness of the programme is the lack of precision and rigidity, so to speak.

An effective programme would result in a particular increase in the number of women participating in regular screening. However, the CSAW provides information on the screening, but there are no tools to bring females to the screening facilities or even check the impact. The participants of the programme may have a positive view concerning the screening, but they are still likely to avoid undergoing the screening procedure.

The community level can be regarded as the level where the most impact can be traced. The charity attracts a lot of attention (including media coverage). The events taking place in terms of the week of awareness are diverse and involve different members of the communities. The programme is held across the country, which means that numerous communities are affected. The charity encourages females to engage their employees and any possible organizations and establishments including hospitals (Cervical Screening Awareness Week 2016). This is an important aspect of any programme as it reaches out to thousands of people, numerous organizations, and establishments. The programme contributes greatly to the ongoing debate on the matter of promoting CSP.

In terms of the organizational level, it is possible to note that the incentive has several weaknesses. As has been mentioned above, CSAW encourages people to involve their employers though locating promotional materials. The organization encourages individuals to address healthcare facilities and distribute promotional materials there (Cervical Screening Awareness Week 2016). This can result in the participation of these facilities. However, the lack of institutional approach and rigidity makes the programme less effective. The organization does not address the healthcare facilities to provide screening or other tests. This kind of collaboration could bring more positive outcomes.

As for the interpersonal and individual dimensions, the programme can be very effective, especially when it comes to cultural issues. Marlow, Waller, and Wardle (2015) stress that women of color often avoid screening due to the lack of knowledge on the matter. They are afraid of being judged and misunderstood in their families. However, the CSAW can remove these barriers as females will understand that the disorder is not a result of unhealthy or immoral behavior, but it can affect anyone. Social workers, members of the organization, or people living in the community can provide support to those who need it through sharing experiences concerning cervical cancer and its prevention. Affected women and their families will share their experiences, and these stories can make others more positive about the screening.

At the same time, there is still a significant weakness of the incentive at this level as well. Apart from cultural issues, women face economic and social problems. Thus, many of them have to work long hours and are simply unable to find time to undergo the necessary procedures. The programme could help females through the organizational level as the charity could launch a programme aimed at encouraging employers to provide their female employees with an opportunity to participate in the screening.

Summary

This chapter includes a brief analysis of the Cervical Screening Awareness Week incentive. The programme can be regarded as a supplementary incentive that can facilitate the CSP. The incentive is effective in terms of the coverage and the involvement of individuals and communities. However, it also has certain weaknesses. The CSAW does not have specific links to organizations that could facilitate women’s participation in the CSP. The charity focuses on raising awareness, but there is a distinct lack of particular tools to make women undergo screening procedures. More so, the incentive does not address socio-economic issues preventing women from participating in the programme.

The analysis of the existing knowledge on the cervical prevention programmes shows that the CSP is effective but characterized by certain weaknesses. The policy has led to a decrease in women diagnosed with cervical cancer. At the same time, the decrease is rather disproportionate as females about ethnic minorities do not benefit from the programme and often avoid any screening and testing. The women’s unwillingness to take part in the prevention measures poses threats to these females’ health. The trend is mainly due to socioeconomic difficulties and cultural peculiarities of females. The CSP is unable to meet the needs of the diverse UK society as many people (most vulnerable groups) remain unaffected.

The brief analysis of an incentive of a UK-wide charity shows that programmes offered by organizations may address certain gaps, but they also have various weaknesses. The CSAW engages females and raises awareness about the disorder and prevention measures. However, it fails to offer particular opportunities for women. There are no links to healthcare units that could offer screening services to females. There is no collaboration with employers who could participate in the incentive. It is possible to note that the CSAW is too narrow. It provides information but mainly targets individuals.

Recommendations

The programmes mentioned above could be improved. The CSP should address the needs of women of color while the CSAW should involve organizations and establishments rather than individuals. It is crucial to analyze the existing literature and implement additional research to understand the barriers to the participation of minority groups. The cultural barriers can be addressed through incentives similar to the CSAW as they remove possible stereotypes.

These incentives will also encourage women to take an active part in prevention measures. Nonetheless, it is crucial to provide particular support to women by addressing socioeconomic issues. For instance, it is important to encourage employers to provide their female employees with a specific time (a day off) to undertake several procedures (screening, tests, and so on). It is also important to provide childcare services.

Thus, an efficient incentive should involve individuals, organizations, and establishments. Thus, the continuation of the CSAW can be a nation-wide campaign that would target minorities. Females about minority groups (ethnic and underprivileged groups) should be encouraged to undergo screening procedures. The women’s employers should be involved as they should provide an opportunity (specific hours). Local healthcare facilities should be ready to provide screening services to the necessary number of people. Charities and childcare facilities should also be involved and provide free care services to females during the hours they devote to prevention procedures.

Finally, media coverage should be extensive. National channels should promote such incentives. Healthcare and educational establishments should also take part in the debate. People should obtain information from different sources. Importantly, people should be exposed to the information before, during, and after the implementation of the project. The stakeholders should be aware of the programme and its outcomes.

Therefore, the programme’s final stage will involve research and evaluation. It is essential to make sure that the programme reaches its aims. Some of the criteria to assess will be the number of people (with a focus on ethnic minorities and underprivileged groups) who have taken part in the screening procedure during and some period after the programme. The number of people diagnosed with cervical cancer should also be taken into account. It is also crucial to collect qualitative data and examine the way females feel about the prevention policies after the implementation of the project. The programme can be further developed and can even result in the creation of a new policy.

Reflection

This project was very challenging and, at the same time, a valuable experience for me. First, I was overwhelmed by the task and instructions. Although the instructions seemed clear and detailed, I felt uncertain about what exactly is needed. I wanted to address many facets of the problem, but I was unable to include all of them in my analysis. I had to prioritize and narrow down my research. I was also quite disturbed when I got a low mark for my proposal although it seemed I followed all the necessary instructions. The mark discouraged me significantly, and it was difficult for me to focus on the project. I have to admit that this project was rather hard for me. However, the project was also beneficial as I acquired particular skills in prioritizing and planning.

One of the challenges was the research. On the one hand, the abundance of information on the matter made my research time and effort-consuming. On the other hand, when I narrowed down my topic. I realized that there was quite limited information on the matter. I spent hours searching for the relevant resources for the project. I need data on a UK prevention policy and its outcomes. When it came to the search for the organizations, it turned out that their incentives were often confined to fundraising and donating to some healthcare facilities.

I wanted to find an incentive that would be more far-reaching. However, I should admit that the project contributed to the development of important searching skills. I have examined numerous websites, journals, magazines, websites, and so on. Now, I can trace reputable academic sources faster, which is an important skill that will enable me to pursue my academic goals.

Of course, I learned a lot about the existing policies, which is essential for me. I understand what is being done for people, and what should be done. This project equipped me with valuable critical thinking skills. I have evaluated an existing policy and applied a theoretical framework. I will be able to utilize the social-ecological framework in other settings as well. I understand that policy should be assessed in terms of different dimensions. This comprehensive approach allows the researcher to unveil existing weaknesses and strengths.

One of the positive outcomes of the project is the understanding of the nature of effective policy or incentive. I believe that a lot of policies are too general while the charity organization’s incentives are too narrow. The former focuses on statistics while the latter tend to concentrate on the experiences of individuals. However, an efficient policy should have the features of both. The project made me see the weaknesses and opportunities as regards existing policies.

I think that each policy should reach individuals, communities, organizations, and various establishments or even systems. Only this comprehensive approach will result in the development of an efficient policy or programme. Therefore, the outcomes of this project are manifold. I have become equipped with more skills, which can be utilized in my further studies and career.

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