Background: Human papillomavirus (HPV)-DNA testing combined with self-sampling could increase cervical cancer screening effectiveness, utilizing a sensitive screening modality and an easy sampling method with minimal pain or discomfort. Self-sampling acceptability, though, is pivotal. Materials and Methods: This study is a nested cross-sectional survey within GRECOSELF, a cross-sectional study on HPV-based screening with self-sampling, aiming at investigating self-sampling acceptability among Greek women residing in rural areas, and the factors affecting it. Women between 25 and 60 years old were recruited by midwives participating in a nationwide midwifery network. Participants, after self-sampling, filled out a questionnaire with three sections, one regarding demographic characteristics, a second with questions pertaining to the participants' cervical cancer screening history, and a third with questions regarding the self-sampling process per se. Results: The sample included 13,111 women. Most participants (67.9%), including those screened or not in the past, would prefer self-sampling if assured that the results are not inferior to standard testing. Discomfort or pain during self-sampling was absent or minimal in 97.1% and 96.5% of the cases, respectively, and 74.4% of the women felt adequately confident that they followed the instructions correctly. Women mostly preferred self-sampling at home compared with health care facilities. Pain and discomfort during the procedure, although rare, were significant factors against acceptance. Most of the women reporting a negative impression had a negative experience with conventional sampling in the past. Conclusion: Self-sampling is highly acceptable. Acceptance can be further improved with proper communication of the process and its noninferiority compared with conventional screening.
Keywords: HPV; cervical cancer prevention; human papillomavirus; self-sampling; underserved populations.