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Well-off 'more likely to have cervical cancer screening' - except in Northern Ireland

The study showed that Northern Ireland was the only country that showed a ‘pro-poor inequality’. Others were ‘pro-rich’ when it came to screening.

Image: Cancer cell via Shutterstock

CERVICAL SCREENING IS more likely to be taken up by less well-off people in Northern Ireland compared to other countries, new research shows.

The working paper, which is published this week by NUI Galway, sees economists look at differences in uptake of cervical cancer screening.

Their study compared uptake of cervical cancer screening in Ireland, Northern Ireland, England and the US.

‘Pro-rich inequality’

The paper found that while cervical cancer is known to be more prevalent among those from lower socio-economic groups, uptake of screening in Ireland, England and the US all evidenced a pro-rich inequality.

This means that better off women were more likely to avail of the screening.

But it also showed that by contrast in Northern Ireland, the less well-off were more likely to avail of it. This meant that a ‘pro-poor inequality’ was evident here, and the researchers suggest that opportunities exist for shared learning in this case.

According to the researchers:

Interestingly, this was driven by the behaviour of Catholics where a marked pro-poor inequality was evident, no such inequality being evident among Protestants.

Previous research has shown that incidence rates and mortality rates associated with cervical cancer demonstrate that poor people are more likely to have and to die from disease. But this study shows that in Ireland, England and the US people who are well off are more likely to have screening.

NUI Galway researchers point to this as an example of how economists can help inform cancer control policies.

Professor Ciaran O’Neill, Dean of Business, Public Policy and Law said:

If we are to have an effective cancer control strategy it is crucial that we understand how choices are made, what impact they have and how we might seek to improve upon them. While research at NUI Galway has helped inform the development of policy in Ireland we recognise that no one individual or group has all the questions let alone all the answers.

The paper will be discussed at the Economics of Cancer Research Symposium, which will bring together stakeholders involved in cancer research including clinicians, patient groups, policy makers, the media and economists.

The symposium aims to facilitate communication and knowledge exchange amongst cancer researchers from multidisciplinary backgrounds, both in Ireland and internationally.

The symposium will be hosted by NUI Galway on Monday 2 September, and will be live broadcast online at the Health Economics and Policy Analysis webpage.

Read: Drug offers first hope for advanced cervical cancer>

Read: Medical card holders 50% more likely to have abnormal smear test result>

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