Martello G, Gori S, Frayle H, Franceschi S, Zorzi M, Del Mistro A.

Prev Med Rep. 2023 Sep 22;36:102438. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2023.102438. eCollection 2023 Dec.


HPV vaccination of girls younger than 15 is very effective in reducing their risk of cervical cancer. In Italy, for vaccinated women, the starting age for cervical cancer screening is set to change from 25 to 30. Adherence to a protocol change is crucial to assure efficacy. The aim of our study was to monitor women's reaction to the change and learn about their attitudes. In September 2022, an anonymous online questionnaire was proposed to 3122 women born in 1997, fully vaccinated before 15 years of age and afferent to an organized cervical cancer screening programme in the Veneto region (North-East Italy). The questionnaire included 30 items on knowledge of HPV infection and preventive measures for cervical cancer, gynaecological check-ups and reactions to the deferment of the start of screening. Overall, 147 questionnaires were completed (4.7% participation rate). Almost all women had some information on HPV and HPV vaccination, while one third were unaware of the existence of the screening programme. Over 66% expressed agreement with the rationale for the deferment of screening initiation, but 62% would have preferred to start screening at 25. There was a significant association between having had one or more Pap tests and the willingness to undergo additional testing outside the screening programme before the age of 30. Continued efforts are required to improve the effectiveness of communication to women, especially when implementing existing protocols, together with strategies to promote correct approaches.