Is concern for gynaecological alarm symptoms associated with healthcare-seeking? A Danish population-based cross-sectional study

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BACKGROUND: Diagnosing cancer at an early stage increases survival, and for most gynaecological cancers the diagnostic pathway is initiated, when women seek medical attention with symptoms. As many factors influence healthcare-seeking, knowledge about these factors is important. Concern can act as a barrier or a trigger for women experiencing gynaecological alarm symptoms. This study aimed to examine whether concern for the symptom or the current health was associated with healthcare-seeking among women with gynaecological alarm symptoms.

METHODS: Some 100,000 randomly selected Danish citizens were invited to a national web-based survey. The questionnaire included items regarding symptom experiences, healthcare-seeking and concern for the experienced symptoms and current health. This study included 5019 women with self-reported gynaecological alarm symptoms (pelvic pain, pain during intercourse, bleeding during intercourse and postmenopausal bleeding). Concern was reported on a 5-point Likert scale from 'not at all' to 'extremely'. Data were analysed using multivariate logistic regression models.

RESULTS: Women who were 'extremely' concerned about a gynaecological alarm symptom had two to six times higher odds of reporting healthcare-seeking compared to women who were 'not at all' concerned. Symptom concern was associated with higher odds of healthcare-seeking for all four gynaecological alarm symptoms and the odds increased with increasing levels of concern. Additionally, concern for current health was associated with higher odds of healthcare-seeking. Concern for current health as expressed by others was positively associated with healthcare-seeking but had only minor influence on the association between concern for current health and healthcare-seeking.

CONCLUSIONS: Concern for a gynaecological alarm symptom and for current health was positively associated with healthcare-seeking. The results can be used for future informational health campaigns targeting individuals at risk of postponing warranted healthcare-seeking.

Original languageEnglish
Article number25
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6. Jan 2022


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