Health care personnel’s perspectives on human papillomavirus (HPV) self-sampling for cervical cancer screening: a pre-implementation, qualitative study

Serena Xiong, De Ann Lazovich, Faiza Hassan, Nafisa Ambo, Rahel Ghebre, Shalini Kulasingam, Susan M. Mason, Rebekah J. Pratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Persistent infection with high-risk human papillomavirus (hrHPV) types is a well-documented cause of cervical cancer. Since the implementation of cervical cancer screening methods (e.g., Pap tests), cervical cancer rates have declined. However, Pap tests are still unacceptable to many women and require complex infrastructure and training. Self-sampling techniques for collecting HPV specimens (or “HPV self-sampling”) have been proposed as a possible alternative to overcome these barriers. The objective of this study was to capture perspectives from health care personnel (providers, leaders, and clinic staff) across primary care systems on the potential implementation of an HPV self-sampling practice. Methods: Between May and July 2021, a study invitation was emailed to various health care professional networks across the Midwest, including a snowball sampling of these networks. Eligible participants were invited to a 45–60-min Zoom-recorded interview session and asked to complete a pre-interview survey. The survey collected sociodemographics on age, occupation, level of educational attainment, race/ethnicity, gender, and awareness of HPV self-sampling. The semi-structured interview was guided by the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research and asked participants about their views on HPV self-sampling and its potential implementation. All interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using NVivo 12. Results: Key informant interviews were conducted with thirty health care personnel—13 health care providers, 6 clinic staff, and 11 health care leaders—from various health care systems. Most participants had not heard of HPV self-sampling but reported a general enthusiasm for wanting to implement it as an alternative cervical cancer screening tool. Possible barriers to implementation were knowledge of clinical evidence and ease of integration into existing clinic workflows. Potential facilitators included the previous adoption of similar self-sampling tools (e.g., stool-based testing kits) and key decision-makers. Conclusion: Although support for HPV self-sampling is growing, its intervention’s characteristics (e.g., advantages, adaptability) and the evidence of its clinical efficacy and feasibility need to be better disseminated across US primary care settings and its potential adopters. Future research is also needed to support the integration of HPV self-sampling within various delivery modalities (mail-based vs. clinic-based).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number130
JournalImplementation Science Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Cervical cancer screening
  • Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research
  • Human papillomavirus self-sampling
  • Implementation
  • Qualitative research


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