Engagement barriers and service inequalities in the NHS Breast screening Programme: views from British-Pakistani women

VG Woof, H Ruane, F Ulph, DP French, N Qureshi, N Khan, DG Evans, LS Donnelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research has largely attempted to explore breast screening experiences of South Asian women by combining opinions from Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Indian women. This research often fails to reach the most underserved sub-groups of this population, with socioeconomic status not routinely reported, and English fluency being a participation requirement. With uptake low amongst British-Pakistani women, this study explores the experiences these women encounter when accessing the NHS Breast Screening Programme.

19 one-to-one semi-structured interviews were carried out with British-Pakistani women from East Lancashire, UK. 14 interviews were conducted via an interpreter.

Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Three themes were identified: ‘Absence of autonomy in screening and healthcare access’ describes how currently the screening service does not facilitate confidentiality or independence. Access requires third-party intervention, with language barriers preventing self-expression. ‘Appraisal of information sources’ makes distinctions between community and NHS communication. Whereas community communication was invaluable, NHS materials were deemed inaccessible due to translation incongruences and incomprehensible terminology. ‘Personal suppositions of breast screening’ explores the subjective issues associated with disengagement, including, the cultural misalignment of the service, and perceiving screening as a symptomatic service.

British-Pakistani women face some unique challenges when accessing breast screening. To promote uptake, the service needs to address the translation of screening materials and optimize upon community networks to disseminate knowledge, including knowledge of the screening environment within the context of culture to promote informed choice about attendance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)969141319887405
JournalJournal of medical screening
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2019


  • breast screening
  • underserved populations
  • barriers
  • inequity
  • experiences


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