Acceptability and feasibility of self-sampling and follow-up attendance after text message delivery of human papillomavirus results: A cross-sectional study nested in a cohort in rural Tanzania

Alex Mremi, Ditte S. Linde, Bariki Mchome, Joseph Mlay, Doris Schledermann, Jan Blaakær, Vibeke Rasch
Publication year: 


The objective was to determine if self-collection of vaginal samples for human papillomavirus (HPV) testing was acceptable and feasible in rural Tanzania and to assess the extent of attendance at a follow-up appointment among women who tested HPV-positive after delivery of HPV results via text messages.

Material and methods

A combined cross-sectional and cohort study was conducted among women aged 25-60 years from rural Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Women were offered HPV self-sampling or traditional visual inspection of the cervix with acetic acid. If HPV self-sampling was preferred, participants received instructions on self-collection with an Evalyn Brush. A questionnaire was used to assess the acceptability and feasibility of the self-sampling procedure for the participants and delivery of HPV results via text messages. A mobile text message platform was used to send private text messages with the screening results to the participants.


A total of 1108 women were enrolled and self-collected an HPV sample; 11.8% tested positive for high-risk HPV. The majority (98.9%) agreed that they had no trouble in understanding the instructions on how to perform the self-collection and that they would recommend it to a friend (94.5%) or as a standard screening method in Tanzania (95.5%). A minority of women experienced bleeding (2.4%) or pain (6%) while collecting the sample, while some were worried that they would get hurt (12.7%) or felt embarrassed (3.5%). The majority (98.4%) of women would like to receive the screening test results via text messages. Eighty-two per cent of those who tested positive for high-risk HPV attended the follow-up appointment after receiving a text message reminder and an additional 16% attended after receiving both a text message and a phone call reminder whereas 2% did not attend follow up at all. Attendance was not influenced by age, marital status, education level, parity, or HIV status.


Human papillomavirus self-sampling and text-message feedback delivery are generally well-perceived and accepted among rural Tanzanian women, and the majority of HPV-positive women attended a follow-up appointment after receiving their HPV results and follow-up appointment via text messages. This screening method may have potential to be transferrable to other low-income countries with a high incidence of cervical cancer and so improve cervical cancer screening attendances.