Demographics and Sociocultural Characteristics of Women Seeking Cervical Cancer Screening in Liberia

Research Article

Ann Carcinog. 2018; 3(1): 1014.

Demographics and Sociocultural Characteristics of Women Seeking Cervical Cancer Screening in Liberia

Beddoe AM¹*, Jallah W², Pereira E¹, Dottino A³, Lieber MLMSW¹, Rehwaldt L¹, Solomon E4, Harris S4 and Dottino P¹

¹Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Icahn School of Medicine at Sinai, USA

²Hope for Women International, Monrovia, Liberia

³Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies, USA

4Mount Sinai Medical Center, USA

*Corresponding author: Beddoe AM, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, USA

Received: May 02, 2018; Accepted: June 15, 2018; Published: June 22, 2018


Background: The civil wars that occurred in Liberia between 1989 and 2003 resulted in the destruction of all health and demographic data. As a precursor to the implementation of reproductive health care in Liberia, and as part of an HPV screening program, a survey was conducted in the capital city of Monrovia for all women who participated.

Objective: To provide demographic on socio-cultural and sexual practices of the post war Liberian woman and relate these findings to the reproductive healthcare needs of Liberian women during the period 2010-2013. To corroborate newly acquired countrywide demographic data.

Methods: Women were recruited for this study through radio and television advertisement, distribution of flyers, and announcements in churches and mosques throughout Monrovia, Liberia. All participants signed informed consent and a questionnaire was completed through one-on-one interviews.

Results: Basic demographic data including education and employment was collected, as was information about sociocultural and sexual practices, reproductive health practices, and interpersonal partner violence and rape.

Conclusions: Information obtained from this study provides insight into the socio-cultural and sexual practices as it relates to current reproductive health care in Liberia.

Contribution: This is the first comprehensive data focusing on Liberian women. Information is available to clinical researchers for future reproductive health projects in Liberia.

Keywords: Reproductive health; Socio-cultural practices; Demographics; Qualitative surveys; One-on-one interviews; Cervical cancer screening


HPV: Human Papilloma Virus; STI: Sexually Transmitted Infections; SPSS: Statistical Package for the Social Sciences; IUD: Intra Uterine Device; IPV: Intimate Partner Violence; IRB: International Review Board; HIV: Human Immunodeficiency Virus; UNICEF: United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund


Women in Liberia have played a pivotal role in its nation’s history. During its 14-year civil and rebel wars, women’s organizations in Liberia were persistent in demanding a resolution between the two sides and called for the end of the war [1]. Since the war ended in 2003, Liberia has entered a period of peace and rebuilding. Data from the World Bank indicate that the women of Liberia make up a large part of the work force. This study found that women make up 50% of the agricultural labor force, they produce 60% of all agricultural products and about 69% are entrepreneurs [2-4]. In a step forward, Liberia elected Ellen Johnson Sirleafas President of Liberia in 2007. Since her induction she has vowed to put women’s agendas at the forefront of political discussions. Little data is recorded about the socio-cultural and sexual practices of women in Liberia [5].

Data and Methods

In order to get a better understanding of the modern day Liberian woman, a quantitative study was undertaken. The study consisted of administering a questionnaire that addressed basic demographic information, sexual and life style history, as well as socio-cultural and sexual practices. This cross-sectional study was done in conjunction with the first pilot STI and cervical cancer-screening program offered in Liberia. Trained nurses administered questionnaires to the patients and recorded their responses.

Study site

Liberia is a country in West Africa with a population of 4,564,717 million people. Fifty-two percent (2,407,532 Million) of the population is in the age range 15-64 years, and 1,214,580 million of this age group are female [6]. The country is divided into 15 counties. Population varies by counties with Grand Kru having the smallest population of 57,913 people and Montserrado having the largest with just over 1.1 million people [7]. Questionnaires were administered in Montserrado County at the Hope for Women International Health Clinic located in Paynesville.


Inclusion criteria for this study were a) females with a minimum age of 16 years old, b) sexually active (or previously active), c) not pregnant, d) no known diagnosis or treatment for cervical carcinoma. Participants for this study were recruited through distribution of fliers, radio and television announcements, and presentations at local churches and mosques. All volunteers under the age of 18 participated with consent of their guardian.

Data collection and analysis

Nurses who participated in data collection were previously trained in taking informed consents and data collection, following the Field Training Guidelines published by John Hopkins School of Public Health [8]. Study participants were given numbers to preserve confidentiality. Completed questionnaires were entered into an Excel spread sheet. Data was later imported into SPSS for analysis. All documents were kept in a locked filing cabinet to which only the principal investigator had access.


978 women signed informed consents to participate in the study.


Ages ranged from 16-85 years old. 54 participants (5.8 %) did not know their age due to lost birth certificates, birth during the war, or birth at a refugee camp. Among the 924 participants who knew their age, the average age was 39.9 years (Table 1). Place of Birth: Of the 873 women who responded, 90.2% of participants were born in Liberia (N=848).