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Open Access Research article

Disseminating a cervical cancer screening program through primary physicians in Hong Kong: a qualitative study

Cecilia S Fabrizio1* and Christopher M Shea2

Author Affiliations

1 School of Public Health, University of Hong Kong, 5th Floor, William MW Mong Block, 21 Sassoon Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong, SAR, China

2 Department of Health Policy and Management, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:85  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-85

Published: 25 February 2014



Organized screening programs are more effective and equitable than opportunistic screening, yet governments face challenges to implement evidence-based programs. The objective of this study was to identify reasons for low levels of adoption among primary care physicians of a government sponsored Cervical Screening Program (CSP).


We conducted in-depth interviews with a snowball sample of primary care private and public primary care physicians in Hong Kong. Rogers’ theory of diffusion of innovation was used to understand the factors that influenced the physicians’ practice decisions.


Our study found that Hong Kong physicians made the decision to encourage cervical screening and to participate in the CSP based primarily upon their clinical and business practice needs rather than upon the scientific evidence. The low rates of adoption of the CSP can be attributed to the physicians’ perceptions that the program’s complexity and incompatibility exceeded its relative advantages. Furthermore, women’s knowledge, attitudes and practices, identified as barriers by physicians, were also barriers to physicians adopting the CSP.


In both private and public health care systems, screening programs that rely on physicians must align program incentives with the physicians’ motivators or pursue additional demand creation policies to achieve objectives.

Cervical cancer screening; Dissemination; Physicians; Prevention; Screening programs