BACKGROUND: Cervical cancer is the most frequent cancer of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Nevertheless, the level of women's awareness about cervical cancer is unknown. Knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) are important elements for designing and monitoring screening programs. The study purpose was to estimate KAP on cervical cancer and to identify associated factors.
METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted in Kinshasa, DRC, including 524 women aged 16-78 years (median age 28; interquartile range 22-35). The women were interviewed at home by trained field workers using a standardized questionnaire. The women's score on knowledge, attitude and practice were dichotomized as sufficient or insufficient. We used binary and multiple logistic regression to assess associations between obtaining sufficient scores and a series of socio-demographic factors: age, residence, marital status, education, occupation, religion, and parity.
RESULTS: The women's score on knowledge was not significantly correlated with their score on practice (Spearman's rho = 0.08; P > 0.05). Obtaining a sufficient score on knowledge was positively associated with higher education (adjusted odds ratio (OR) 7.65; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 3.31-17.66) and formal employment (adjusted OR 3.35; 95% CI 1.85-6.09); it was negatively associated with being single (adjusted OR 0.44; 95% CI 0.24-0.81) and living in the eastern, western and northern zone of Kinshasa compared to the city centre. The attitude score was associated with place of residence (adjusted OR for east Kinshasa: 0.49; 95% CI 0.27-0.86 and for south Kinshasa: 0.48; 95% CI 0.27-0.85) and with religion (adjusted OR 0.55; 95% CI 0.35-0.86 for women with a religion other than Catholicism or Protestantism compared to Catholics). Regarding practice, there were negative associations between a sufficient score on practice and being single (adjusted OR 0.24; 95% CI 0.13-0.41) and living in the eastern zone of the city (adjusted OR 0.39; 95% CI 0.22-0.70). Although 84% of women had heard about cervical cancer, only 9% had ever had a Papanicolaou (Pap) smear test.
CONCLUSIONS: This study shows a low level of knowledge, attitude and practice on cervical cancer among women in Kinshasa. Increasing women's awareness would be a first step in the long chain of conditions to attain a lower incidence and mortality.