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Background: Cervical cancer screening is an important public health priority, yet many marginalized groups are not reached by existing programs. The nearly 700 million women with disabilities globally face substantial barriers in accessing cervical cancer screening and have lower coverage, yet there is limited evidence on what would support enhanced uptake among this population. Methods: We updated a systematic review to estimate the disparity in screening uptake for women with disabilities. We conducted a scoping review to understand key barriers and the inclusion of disability in existing screening policies and possible solutions to improve screening uptakes amongst women with disabilities. We then formulated key principles for improved service delivery for this group, targeted predominantly at clinicians. Results: Our updated review identified an additional five new studies, and confirmed that women with disabilities were less likely to be screened for cervical cancer (RR=0.65, 0.50–0.84). Disability-specific barriers to accessing screening pertained to: (1) knowledge and autonomy; (2) logistics; and (3) stigma and fear. Few guidelines included specific considerations for women with disabilities. Our scoping review showed that improving access to care must focus on improving (1) autonomy, awareness, and affordability; (2) human resources; and (3) health facility accessibility. Conclusion: Screening programmes and health providers must ensure women with disabilities are included in cervical cancer screening programmes and thereby help to achieve their right to health and eliminate cervical cancer as a public health issue.

Original publication




Journal article


International Journal of Women's Health

Publication Date





679 - 692