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© 2016 Morris et al. Background: Provision of written information may improve awareness of cancer symptoms and encourage timely presentation in primary care. This study assessed changes in symptom knowledge, perceived barriers to help-seeking, anxiety and intention to seek help, following exposure to a leaflet to raise awareness of gynaecological cancer symptoms. Methods: Women (N = 484) completed questionnaires before and after reading the leaflet. The primary outcome was change in anticipated time to help-seeking for 12 symptoms. Changes in symptom knowledge, barriers and anxiety, and their association with prompt help-seeking were evaluated using Wilcoxon signed rank tests and logistic regression analyses. Results: After reading the leaflet, symptom knowledge increased (p < 0.001), and perceived barriers (p < 0.001) and anxiety (p = 0.008) decreased. The number of symptoms for which women anticipated seeking help promptly increased (p < 0.001). Changes in knowledge (OR 4.21, 95 % CI 1.95-9.13) and perceived barriers (OR 4.60, 95 % CI 1.91-11.04) were independently associated with increased help-seeking. Conclusion: Increased symptom knowledge and lowered perceived barriers were related to increased prompt anticipated help-seeking. This occurred without an increase in anxiety. This intervention is effective in altering knowledge, beliefs and help-seeking intentions for gynaecological cancer symptoms, at least in the short-term, and should be trialled in primary care.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Public Health

Publication Date