Open Access Open Badges Research article

Factors associated with non-attendance, opportunistic attendance and reminded attendance to cervical screening in an organized screening program: a cross-sectional study of 12,058 Norwegian women

Bo T Hansen*, Silje S Hukkelberg, Tor Haldorsen, Tormod Eriksen, Gry B Skare and Mari Nygård

Author Affiliations

Department of Screening-based Research, Cancer Registry of Norway, Oslo, Norway

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:264  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-264

Published: 26 April 2011



Cervical cancer incidence and mortality may be reduced by organized screening. Participant compliance with the attendance recommendations of the screening program is necessary to achieve this. Knowledge about the predictors of compliance is needed in order to enhance screening attendance.


The Norwegian Co-ordinated Cervical Cancer Screening Program (NCCSP) registers all cervix cytology diagnoses in Norway and individually reminds women who have no registered smear for the past three years to make an appointment for screening. In the present study, a questionnaire on lifestyle and health was administered to a random sample of Norwegian women. The response rate was 68%. To address the predictors of screening attendance for the 12,058 women aged 25-45 who were eligible for this study, individual questionnaire data was linked to the cytology registry of the NCCSP. We distinguished between non-attendees, opportunistic attendees and reminded attendees to screening for a period of four years. Predictors of non-attendance versus attendance and reminded versus opportunistic attendance were established by multivariate logistic regression.


Women who attended screening were more likely than non-attendees to report that they were aware of the recommended screening interval, a history of sexually transmitted infections and a history of hormonal contraceptive and condom use. Attendance was also positively associated with being married/cohabiting, being a non-smoker and giving birth. Women who attended after being reminded were more likely than opportunistic attendees to be aware of cervical cancer and the recommended screening interval, but less likely to report a history of sexually transmitted infections and hormonal contraceptive use. Moreover, the likelihood of reminded attendance increased with age. Educational level did not significantly affect the women's attendance status in the fully adjusted models.


The likelihood of attendance in an organized screening program was higher among women who were aware of cervical screening, which suggests a potential for a higher attendance rate through improving the public knowledge of screening. Further, the lower awareness among opportunistic than reminded attendees suggests that physicians may inform their patients better when smears are taken at the physician's initiative.