Pilot Study of a Mobile Health Approach to Reduce Barriers to Cervical Cancer Screening in Tanzania (KCCPAS)


Queen's University




Cervical Cancer


Behavioral: Travel Voucher
Behavioral: Motivational SMS

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


The purpose of this study is to determine whether motivational text messages and/or travel vouchers are effective in increasing cervical cancer screening rates in urban and rural regions of Northern Tanzania.

Full description

Introduction: Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Tanzania. The age-adjusted incidence rate is estimated to be 54 cases per 100,000 (IARC, 2012) and 80% of Tanzanian women affected by cervical cancer will die due to advanced stage at diagnosis (Kahesa, et al., 2012). Visual Inspection of the cervix under Acetic Acid (VIA) is an effective alternative to the Pap smear, unavailable in most low-resource countries due to weak health systems (Palanuwong, 2007). Nurses typically receive 6 days of training before returning to their communities to provide VIA; however, they often face a total lack of oversight to ensure they are providing quality screening and cryotherapy. This lack of quality control has prevented a decline in cervical cancer morbidity and mortality despite significant investment and implementation of VIA programs. The Kilimanjaro Cervical Cancer Screening Project (KCCP) is a pilot study of 1000 women that developed and tested a cervicography (taking a digital photo of the cervix) training method using a smartphone camera in the hands of nurses performing cervical cancer screening and receiving 'real time' mentorship through a closed user group of image transfer and guidance by cervicographers located elsewhere in Tanzania. A pilot study completed in February 2015 showed that this method provides safe and high quality screening and the method is moving to implementation and scale up within multiple VIA programs in late 2015 (Yeates et al., Manuscript in preparation). The KCCP continues to screen patients and this provides a significant opportunity to perform further research that will inform the scale-up program. Measures to encourage increased uptake of cervical cancer screening in the region, and in many low-resource contexts are drastically needed to reduce the burden of cervical cancer in these contexts. The prevalence of screening in the Kilimanjaro is 6%(Cunningham et al, 2015), which is close to the WHO figure of 5% of women in developing countries having been screened in the last five years (World Health Organization, 1986). The largest perceived barriers to cervical cancer screening in the Kilimanjaro region were found to be a lack of knowledge that screening services were available and women anticipated that they would not be able to afford the costs associated with screening, including travel (Cunningham et al, 2015). Objectives: A) To determine attitudes, barriers and enablers towards smartphone cervicography to ensure an accessible, culturally relevant smartphone cervicography screening program B) To evaluate the impact of a voucher for return transportation towards increasing cervical cancer screening attendance C) To evaluate the impact of motivational text messages towards increasing cervical cancer screening attendance Methodology: This study will comprise of a descriptive cross-sectional survey and a randomized controlled trial (RCT). Household surveys, capturing baseline characteristics, using stratified systematic random sampling in urban and rural areas will be used to recruit participants for the RCT. Cross-sectional survey participants will be recruited opportunistically at screening clinics associated with the study. RCT participants will be randomized into one of three arms. The first arm will be a control group and will not receive any correspondence. The second arm will receive a series of motivational text messages, including screening dates and locations. The third group will receive a travel voucher code via SMS and motivational text messages with the same content as the second group. A post-screening survey will be conducted following cervical cancer screening at clinics participating in the study to evaluate screening attendance and attitudes towards smartphone digital cervicography.


851 patients




25 to 49 years old


Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • Own a mobile phone or have access to husband's/friend's mobile phone who is not eligible to participate in the research

Exclusion criteria

  • Previous history of cervical cancer or hysterectomy
  • Having been screened for cervical cancer in the past year

Trial design

Primary purpose




Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


Double Blind

851 participants in 3 patient groups

Motivational SMS
Experimental group
This arm will receive 15 motivational SMS about cervical cancer and screening.
Behavioral: Motivational SMS
Travel Voucher
Experimental group
This arm will receive a voucher covering return transport from the screening clinic. This arm will also receive identical 15 motivational SMS about cervical cancer and screening as the Motivational SMS arm.
Behavioral: Motivational SMS
Behavioral: Travel Voucher
No Intervention group
This arm will receive standard sensitization during study period (church announcements, screening promotion by key community leaders and posters in community, as well as sensitization by the research assistants conducting the door-to-door household recruitment) during the study and follow-up period. They will also receive one SMS message with the location of screening services during the study period. At the conclusion of the study, participants in the arm will receive identical motivational SMS as the other two arms.

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from clinicaltrials.gov

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