Students launch campaign to encourage women to have smear tests

A group of nursing and midwifery students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have launched a social media campaign to encourage women to attend their cervical screening appointments.

The ’Don’t Fear the Smear’ campaign coincides with the national Public Health England Cervical Screening Saves Lives campaign, and will involve promotion on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn using the hashtag #DontFearTheSmear. Find the campaign on Twitter and Instagram at @dfts_uk  and on Facebook  

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The students are working in partnership with NHS England, Public Health England, Cancer Research UK and NHS Leicester City Clinical Commissioning Group to dispel some of the myths around cervical screening appointments (also known as smear tests) and to promote the reasons for attending a smear test when invited to do so.

Attending regular cervical screening appointments is the best way to identify abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix at an early stage which can help to prevent cancer before it happens.

It is estimated that early detection and treatment can prevent up to 75% of cervical cancers. If abnormalities are detected at an early stage then treatment can reduce the risk of cervical cancer developing.

Figures show that only 59.7% of 25-49 year olds in Leicester City attended their latest cervical screening appointment in 2017/18.

Allison Brindley, Programme lead for Practice Nursing at De Montfort University, said: “The number of women attending their cervical screening is at an all-time low, with Leicester City having the second lowest uptake in England after London. To encourage local women to attend their cervical screening, DMU midwifery and nursing students have volunteered through DMU Local to work on a campaign in collaboration with Cancer Research UK and Public Health England.

“The idea of the campaign is to raise awareness of cervical screening through the use of social media. We are asking women after their cervical screening if they would be happy to have their photo taken on their phone holding a placard with #DontFearTheSmear on it and then post it on their social media and tag friends with #DontFearTheSmear.

“Over the next few weeks DMU students will be visiting places in the community such as hairdressers, gyms, community centres and swimming baths to promote the campaign and to encourage women to talk about going for their smear test.”

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Dr Tim Davies, Consultant Lead for Screening and Immunisation, NHS England (Central Midlands), said: “#DontFearTheSmear has been put together by a team from several different organisations including the NHS and Cancer Research UK, but key to its delivery are the participating De Montfort University, Nursing and Midwifery student volunteers.

“The project will locally enhance the Public Health England first-ever national cervical screening awareness campaign. We are very hopeful of seeing an increase in women taking up their invite and attending for their cervical screening test in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland due to both of these campaigns.”

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Posted on Wednesday 20th March 2019

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