A study of the health seeking behavior of women on treatment for cervical cancer in Grey's hospital.
Background According to the Programme for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), global statistics show that nearly half a million new cases of invasive cervical cancer are diagnosed each year. More than a quarter million women die of this disease annually, with the highest incidence and mortality rates being in developing countries. In South Africa a woman's risk of developing cervical cancer is one in 26. Each year 6 700 women develop cervical cancer while 3 700 die from the disease annually. The overall aim of this research was to determine the patterns of health seeking behaviour of women being treated for cervical cancer. The specific objectives were to: Describe the health service utilization characteristics of patients being treated for cervical cancer. Describe the need factors associated with decision to seek care. Describe the enabling factors associated with decision to seek care. Describe the predisposing factor associated with the decision to seek care. Analysis of factors associated with health seeking behavior in women treated for cervical cancer. Methods An observational study with a descriptive and analytic component was undertaken. The study was conducted in the Oncology Department of Grey‟s Hospital, which is a referral hospital located in Pietermaritzburg from the Umgungundlovu, Umzinyathi, Zululand, Uthukela and Amajuba Health District which has a population of 995 303. All patients treated for cervical cancer within the study period, who provided informed consent for their participation in the study, were enrolled. The total number included in the study was 109. Descriptive statistics were used to explore frequencies emanating from the data. Pearson Chi square tests were used to explore the relationship between two categorical variables and the p-value was used to decide how much evidence there was against the null hypothesis. Odds ratio was also used as a measure of risk to compare whether the probability of a variable is the same for the outcome variables. Regression was performed on the variables that were found to be statistically significant to the outcome variables in the bivariate analyses. Results The variables that most influenced health seeking behaviour and that still remained statistically associated with the outcome variables under the multivariate analysis were found to be age, marital status, employment status, social support for medical treatment, educational level, knowledge of Pap smear screening and recognition of cervical cancer. Conclusion The study achieved its aim of determining the patterns of health seeking behavior of women being treated for cervical cancer at Grey‟s Hospital. It also identified that proper implementation of HPV vaccination and cervical screening programme can be an entry point to address the incidence and presentation of cancer at advance stages, as well the treatment of precancerous lesions of the cervix in the women of reproductive age. An awareness campaign, support for women to undergo screening program and availability of health centers is also recommended. All recommendations need to be considered by the department of health and appropriate authorities in South Africa to minimize the widespread of cervical cancer.