The application of health behavior theories to promote cervical cancer screening uptake

Jyoshma Preema Dsouza, Stephan Van den Broucke, Sanjay Pattanshetty, William Dhoore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: While cervical cancer is a major cause of mortality, its progress and survival rate can be improved through screening. Yet despite their wide availability, women's participation in cervical cancer screening (CCS) programs is often suboptimal, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Besides demographic and organizational characteristics, screening uptake is influenced by psychological factors, most of which are included in health behavior theories. This systematic review compared different health behavior theories in terms of their capacity to explain CCS uptake and inform CCS promotion campaigns. Methods: A comprehensive search and analysis of published intervention and non-intervention (observational) studies that applied at least one health behavior theory to CCS participation. Results: After quality screening, 48 observational and 21 intervention studies were identified that applied the Health Belief Model (HBM), Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB), Transtheoretical model (TTM), Social-ecological Model (SEM), and/or Theory of Triadic Influence (TTI) to CCS. The HBM was most frequently used to explain behavior, whereas the TPB was better at explaining screening intentions. Tailored intervention studies focusing on all theoretical constructs were most effective in modifying perceptions and increasing CCS uptake. Conclusions: Despite their inconsistent use, health behavior theories can explain CCS intentions and behavior and contribute to the development of targeted interventions to promote screening uptake.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPublic Health Nursing
Publication statusPublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nursing(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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