Lesbian, gay and bisexual women in the north west: a multi-method study of cervical screening attitudes, experiences and uptake
Light, B and Ormandy, P 2011, Lesbian, gay and bisexual women in the north west: a multi-method study of cervical screening attitudes, experiences and uptake , University of Salford, Salford.
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The NHS Cervical Screening Programme (NHSCSP), committed to reducing health inequalities for lesbian and bisexual (LGB) women within cervical screening programmes, funded this research study in response to the Department of Health’s 2007 Cancer Reform Strategy. Specifically, within this strategy it is noted that there is a lack of evidence regarding what interventions might be most effective at addressing different forms of inequalities (DH 2007:85). Following this, in 2008, Cancer Research made a further call for an increase in government and health service commissioned research to better understand the needs of the Lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) communities (CRUK 2008). It was within this context that the LGF approached us to work with them to secure the funding to undertake a project that aimed to develop understandings of, and interventions regarding, LGB women’s attitudes towards, experiences of and uptake of cervical screening. Three key things motivated us to engage with the project. First, as Academics, we saw here an opportunity to engage with a local community organisation to affect change to people’s lives directly and, potentially, through policy. Second, we knew that the Lesbian and Gay Foundation (LGF) works closely with the local LGB population in the North West, and has considerable knowledge of the sexual minority group, providing outreach work and health education. Therefore, if this work was going to be done, this was the right partner. Third, this project resonated with work that we had begun together in 2009 in collaboration with Brook Advisory, a charity that provides sexual health services and advice for young people. This work focussed upon creating digital media based interventions to affect behaviour change, and the development of associated evaluation mechanisms, in the area of sexual health. We felt that this work on service user engagement and evaluation would feed in well to the project and that the knowledge and experience gained working with the LGF would feed back to our Brook project as this moved into its second and final year. Happily we were right on both counts. We thus hope that the project as written up here underlines the importance of the need for women who identify as LGB to be invited for screening and demonstrates that increasing uptake of said invitations is possible. But also, we would like to think we point to the joint work between ourselves and the LGF which demonstrate the possibilities for modes of engagement that see evaluation as an ongoing process, embedded throughout methodologies of campaigns and formal research.
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