Enhancing Cervical Screening Rates and Self-Collection Testing in General Practice

Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. In Australia, more than 70% of people diagnosed with cervical cancer had never been screened or were not up to date with their cervical screening1.

Primary care providers are well positioned to engage and support people who may be hesitant to participate in cervical screening and, if eligible, discuss the option and process of self-collection.

This activity focuses on how to identify and engage your under-screened or never-screened patients and increase cervical cancer screening.

Click here to view the Cervical Screening toolkit video

General goal

Increase cervical screening rates and promote the option of self-collection testing among patients who are under-screened or never screened.

Relevant resources

To achieve this goal, you can access a range of resources:

1. Review current best practice.

Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines - Cancer Council

NPS MedicineWise - National cervical screening program

Providing cervical screening - Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care

2. RACGP’s Red Book details guidelines for preventative activities in general practice RACGP - Cervical cancer

3. Health Pathways: Explore Health Pathways for locally tailored approaches to cervical cancer screening and management. Cervical Cancer Screening - Community HealthPathways Sunshine Coast & Gympie

 4. National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR): The NCSR supports cancer screening and can be integrated with most general practice software to show patient screening participation.

National Cancer Screening Register

5. The Department of Health has released several resources for patients.

Resources for patients – National Cervical Screening Program

Resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women

Bring the team together

1. Kickstart your quality improvement activity by bringing together a quality improvement team. Together, you’ll identify the key challenges and come up with innovative solutions, ensuring you all share a clear understanding of the improvement objectives and strategies.

2. We suggest you start by gathering some data and information, including: Reviewing current practice data and processes for cervical cancer screening including self-collection.

3. Breakdown any common barriers to optimal care with the team and brainstorm ideas to improve processes.

Your data

What data might you need? You’ll need data to understand the problem and measure your outcomes. We suggest you start with:

1. Benchmark Report: Utilise the Country to Coast, Qld benchmark report which will provide an indication of current rates of cervical cancer screening in the practice. This will serve as a baseline against which you can measure your progress.

2. Primary Sense Resource: Explore Primary Sense for insights, tools, and guidance on data quality improvement, with a focus on cervical screening. The PIP QI report identifies the proportion of eligible patients with up-to-date cervical screening.

3. Utilise PenCS recipe on Improve Data Quality: Leverage PenCS's recipe for improving data quality, with a particular emphasis on cervical screening data, including self-collection testing. Find patients eligible for cervical screening - CAT Recipes - PenCS Help

4. Clinical Software: Understand the capabilities and limitations of your medical software. You need to ensure that your software is optimised for data quality and clinical coding. Clinical software integration

Possible improvement ideas

Some improvement ideas might include:

1. Gather data on never or under-screened patients and set up a recall/reminder.

2. Survey a group of patients to understand barriers to participation.

3. Set up an annual audit schedule and targets for participation.

4. Run a patient education campaign to inform patients about self-collection.

QI templates

Utilise quality improvement templates to structure and document your improvement efforts.

PDSA template for download

Shared PDSA examples

Share your success stories and lessons learned from your quality improvement activities – your knowledge can lead the way to better care and a bigger impact.

Here's a completed PDSA to get you started - cervical screening

Share and communicate your results

  • With your CCQ practice support team and with your patients
  • Ensure you document your quality improvement activity to meet PIP QI guidelines and for CPD purposes.


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2019) Analysis of cervical cancer and abnormality outcomes in an era of cervical screening and HPV vaccination in Australia, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 23 November 2023.