Objective: To investigate the extent of participation in cervical cancer screening among women who live in discrete rural and remote Indigenous communities in Queensland.
Design: Descriptive analysis of data from the Queensland Health Pap Smear Registry for the period March 1999 to February 2001.
Subjects: Women aged 20-69 years who had given their address of usual residence as one of 13 discrete rural and remote Indigenous communities in Queensland.
Main outcome measures: Proportion of women who participated in cervical screening over a two-year period ("biennial participation percentage") and variation in participation across the 13 communities.
Results: Overall, the biennial participation percentage in the Indigenous communities was 41.1%. This was 30% lower (risk ratio, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.67-0.72) than that for the rest of Queensland. There was statistically significant variation among communities, with biennial participation percentage ranging from 19.9% to 63.5%.
Conclusions: The variation in participation across the communities suggests that the problem of low participation among Indigenous women is not intractable. Achieving participation rates similar to the highest rates found in our study would be of major benefit to Indigenous women.