What’s pants, but could save your life?

A West Midlands National Health Service (NHS) program, ‘what’s pants, but could save your life?’ was designed to achieve a sustained increase in cervical screening amongst women 25 to 29 years old. Program development began with an in-depth literature review that explored the public’s responses to similar campaigns conducted in other regions. Directly following the initial literature review, the program team examined all aspects of the cervical screening process, from the location and hours of screening centers to materials used for communicating with patients. Focus groups were also held so that the program team could gain a better understanding of why many women are reluctant to attend screening sessions. Initial research findings were used to help craft messaging for advertising materials. Messaging was later refined based on feedback provided during additional focus group sessions. Materials designed to communicate key program messages and how to access cervical screening services included posters, flyers for direct-mailing, ad space on buses, and credit card sized cut-outs. A two-week radio campaign was arranged to give the campaign more media coverage and direct the target audience to the campaign’s website. The program team also took steps to make screening clinics more accessible, helping providers to open additional screening locations, extend operating hours, and improve the way results were delivered. Quarterly and annual data from cervical screening returns and laboratory workload were used to monitor the effectiveness of the program. While results from the first quarter showed a 16% increase in laboratory workload, the initial increase was not sustained, and the program’s screening targets were not met.

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