Ping Teresa Yeh 1, Caitlin E Kennedy 1, Hugo de Vuyst 2,3, Manjulaa Narasimhan 3

Author affiliations

  1. Department of International HealthJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreMaryland, USA
  2. Infections and Cancer Epidemiology GroupInternational Agency for Research on CancerLyon, France
  3. Department of Reproductive Health and ResearchOrganisation mondiale de la SantéGeneve, Switzerland


Introduction Human papillomavirus (HPV) self-sampling test kits may increase screening for and early detection of cervical cancer and reduce its burden globally. To inform WHO self-care guidelines, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of HPV self-sampling among adult women on cervical (pre-)cancer screening uptake, screening frequency, social harms/adverse events and linkage to clinical assessment/treatment.


Methods The included studies compared women using cervical cancer screening services with HPV self-sampling with women using standard of care, measured at least one outcome, and were published in a peer-reviewed journal. We searched PubMed, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CNIAHL), Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature (LILACS) and Embase through October 2018. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane tool for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and the Evidence Project tool for non-randomised studies. Meta-analysis was conducted using random-effects models to generate pooled estimates of relative risk (RR).


Results 33 studies in 34 articles with 369 017 total participants met the inclusion criteria: 29 RCTs and 4 observational studies. All studies examined HPV self-sampling; comparison groups were standard of care (eg, Pap smear, visual inspection with acetic acid, clinician-collected HPV testing). 93% of participants were from high-income countries. All 33 studies measured cervical cancer screening uptake. Meta-analysis found greater screening uptake among HPV self-sampling participants compared with control (RR: 2.13, 95% CI 1.89 to 2.40). Effect size varied by HPV test kit dissemination method, whether mailed directly to home (RR: 2.27, 95% CI 1.89 to 2.71), offered door-to-door (RR: 2.37, 95% CI 1.12 to 5.03) or requested on demand (RR: 1.28, 95% CI 0.90 to 1.82). Meta-analysis showed no statistically significant difference in linkage to clinical assessment/treatment between arms (RR: 1.12, 95% CI 0.80 to 1.57). No studies measured screening frequency or social harms/adverse events.


Conclusion A growing evidence base, mainly from high-income countries and with significant heterogeneity, suggests HPV self-sampling can increase cervical cancer screening uptake compared with standard of care, with a marginal effect on linkage to clinical assessment/treatment.


Source Yeh PTKennedy CEde Vuyst H, et al. Self-sampling for human papillomavirus (HPV) testing: a systematic review and meta-analysis.