The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
CR and CW conceptualized the study. CW, PW, KJ and PK collected the data. CR analysed the data and wrote the first draft. All authors contributed to the final manuscript and approved its contents.
CW (BSc, MSc, PhD) is senior lecturer, Allied Health Sciences, Faculty Medicine, University of Ruhuna. Prabhavi Wijesiriwardhana and Kalani Jayasekara are lecturers in Allied Health Sciences, Faculty Medicine, University of Ruhuna and Priyanka Kumari is a technical officer in Allied Health Sciences, Faculty Medicine, University of Ruhuna. CR (MBBS, MD) is lecturer in Medicine, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo.
The incidences of breast, cervical and uterine malignancies continue to increase in Sri Lanka. It is important to explore the awareness of both women and their male partners regarding these malignancies and available screening services as it would determine the health seeking behaviours of females.
This was a cross sectional survey of couples residing in the Galle District of the Southern province of Sri Lanka. The sample was selected from all 17 health administrative divisions of the district. An interviewer administered questionnaire was used to collect data on demography and level of awareness (risk factors, symptoms, signs, screening services) of breast, cervical and uterine cancers. Same questionnaire was used for both sexes except for gender specific questions.
A total of 282 (n-282, 564 individuals) couples were interviewed. The level of awareness regarding all malignancies was low. More than 50 % of participants in both sexes scored less than half the points on a questionnaire testing awareness. Better family income, better education and permanent employment showed a significant association with better awareness in both sexes (univariate analysis). Encouragement by male partner was associated with better participation in some instances.
Community based health education on female malignancies needs to target both sexes. Educating males is important as, i) male partners can encourage females to utilize screening services and ii) some screening and preventive measures are relevant to males also. Better awareness of males may increase the uptake of screening services by females in societies with male dominant gender roles.