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Success in applying behavioural science to cervical cancer screening

Here is a fantastic case study from Retford and Villages PCN’s where Emma Walker, Cancer Support Coordinator gives an insightful perspective on the implementation and outcomes of applying behavioural science to increase cervical cancer screening.

We’ve included some key points and findings from the case study below:


· The multi-disciplinary cancer project team meetings have been a useful platform, enabling ideas to be shared, plans to be agreed, learning to be incorporated and issues be resolved. These meetings include practice managers, GP’s, cancer support coordinators & representatives from third sector cancer support charities.

· Out-of-hours clinic appointments have been managed by the PCN cancer care coordinator, who has worked tirelessly to recruit additional hour nurses, organise rotas & suitable clinic locations, and book appointments.

· Utilising the behavioural science nudge techniques to inform targeted messaging, PCN staff & data quality representatives have attended the 3 training sessions facilitated by the Cancer Alliance, which resulted in positive changes to the cervical screening invitation process.

· Telephone calls were made to a random sample of non-responders which enabled the team to understand barriers and reasons for non-attending.

· Follow-up phone calls to non-responders were also implemented, utilising the behaviour science nudge techniques.

Achievements to date

· As part of this project, the R&V PCN has provided an EXTRA 24 cervical smear clinics from August including weekly Saturday clinics.

· 259 patients have been invited for their cervical screening and results show a 78% attendance.

Future plans

· To increase more evening clinics across different GP practices to enable greater availability and booking choice.

· To send reminder text messages, incorporating the behavioural science key messages, to non-responders through the AccuRx platform; an intuitive, flexible, and scalable tool, that helps practices engage with patients at scale.

· Advertise with adaption of the key nudge messages in easy-to-read posters in various locations including beauty salons/hairdressers and the Covid vaccination centre in order to target the younger population.

Emily Dolby of Crown House Surgery in Retford said regarding the training: “In regards to Tracey Turner (BST Trainer), please pass on my thanks for her fantastic seminars. If there is any further training following the first sessions of BST, I would very much like to hear about these and put my name forward! I used to find that I lack confidence when discussing certain elements of care with patients, such as cytology, especially if they are already reluctant to attend – but Tracey’s session has given me a boost of confidence to discuss these elements of care and to provide information to encourage attendance/participation so thank you Tracey!”

Tracey Turner programme lead responded, “This is a great example where sharing the Behavioural Science approach alongside the engagement and enthusiasm from the PCN team to apply service transformation leads to positive outcomes for their registered populationIf your PCN or practice have yet to engage to also see the benefits of the programme, please get in touch and we will work with you to get the great results seen in Retford and Villages.”