Background: The objective was to examine the cervical screening programme at selected health centres in the Eastern Regional Health Authority (ERHA), Trinidad and Tobago, specifically regarding Pap smear coverage, frequency distribution of abnormal smears and the adequacy of follow-up of abnormal smears, according to the Caribbean Frameworks for Developing National Screening and Clinical Guidelines for Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control.
Methods: A retrospective analysis of secondary data from five health centres in the ERHA over the two-year period 2009–2010 was conducted. Data were entered into Microsoft Excel, cleaned and imported into SPSS (v 12) for analysis. Descriptive and Chi-squared analyses were carried out.
Results: The cumulative cervical screening coverage for the years 2009 and 2010 was 2600 Pap smears for a population of 28 811 women (9% coverage). The proportion of cervical smears done per age group ranged from 1.6% to 8.6% in 2009 and from 1.9% to 12.9% in 2010. The proportion of Pap smears for the target population, 25–49 years, stood at 11% in 2009 and 13.2% in 2010. The distribution of abnormal Pap smears (n = 155) was: atypical squamous cell of undetermined significance (ASCUS), 68.4%, low-grade squamous intra-epithelial lesion (LSIL), 14.2%, atypical squamous cells – high-grade squamous intra-epithelial lesion cannot be excluded (ASC-H), 4.5%, atypical glandular cells of undetermined significance (AGUS), 1.3% and invasive squamous cervical carcinoma, 0.6%. Human papillomavirus was detected in 7.7% of the study population. More than half of the women with abnormal smears did not follow-up on recommendations for further care and there was a significant loss to follow-up especially among the women who were referred for repeat Pap smear. The significant predictor to whether follow-up care occurred or not was age (p < 0.05).
Conclusion: The cervical screening services in the ERHA in Trinidad did not provide adequate coverage to the target population or adequate follow-up care for women with abnormal smears in 2009 and 2010.