Barriers and facilitators in implementing population based common cancer screening through community health workers

19 Aug 2021
Ashwini Kedar, Amrita John, Subhadra Goala, Roshni Babu, Ritesh Tapkire, Ravi Kannan, Roopa Hariprasad

Population based cancer screening was initiated in India in 2016 owing to an increased burden of cancers. A feasibility health system study was done by utilising community health workers (CHWs) to conduct the cancer screening. The current study is a qualitative study to elicit the barriers and facilitators in implementing population based cancer screening through CHWs. The study was conducted at three subcentres of Dholai block of Cachar district, Assam, India and Cachar Cancer Hospital and Research Center, Silchar. The participants of the study were CHWs, master trainer nurses and women from community. Three focus group discussions (FGDs) and one in-depth interview (IDI) were conducted at the provider level and seven IDIs of women from the community. The FGDs and IDIs were audio recorded after taking verbal consent from the participants. The verbatims were prepared following translation and transcription and data analysis using ATLAS ti ver 8. The major barrier faced by the community was a lack of motivation to get screened which stemmed from various factors such as personal beliefs, attitudes and fear. The major facilitators were accessibility of tests, family support and CHWs as screening service providers. The major barriers for CHWs were difficulty in motivating the community, lack of support from supervisors and lack of motivation to work. The major facilitators were convenience of screening during home visits, empowerment, skill enhancement and teamwork. Population based cancer screening was a new concept for the community under study. Cancer screening by CHWs was well accepted by the community. Awareness generation among the community was a major factor in improving screening coverage. The study highlights that training and motivation of CHWs can improve the uptake of cancer screening services. CHWs felt empowered with the new skills imparted and were able to carry out screening.

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