The personal cancer screening behaviours of nurses and midwives

Document Type





School of Nursing and Midwifery


Australian Research Council (ARC) grant number: LP130100694, New South Wales Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA)

Grant Number



Originally published as : Nicholls, R., Perry, L., Gallagher, R., Duffield, C., Sibbritt, D., & Xu, X. (2017). The personal cancer screening behaviours of nurses and midwives. Journal of advanced nursing, 73(6), 1403-1420. Originally found here


Aim: The aim of this study was to identify the personal cancer screening behaviours of nurses and midwives in New South Wales, Australia, and identify factors predictive of cancer screening uptake. Background: The nursing workforce may have a higher risk for some cancers and is ageing. In Australia, more than 40% are over 50 years – an age where cancer incidence rises rapidly, but when screening may reduce cancer mortality. Nurses and midwives are important health role models for the population, but their engagement in cancer screening is unknown. Design: A cross-sectional survey conducted in 2014–2015. Methods: Data were obtained from the ‘Fit for the Future’ study on 5041 working nurses and midwives in New South Wales, Australia and analyses were conducted on subsets of age-eligible respondents. Demographic, geographical and occupational data were analysed in relation to population-based screening for breast, cervical and bowel cancers and opportunistic screening for prostate and skin cancer screening participation, in line with Australian recommendations. Results: Nurses’ and midwives’ recent screening rates were higher than the Australian general population across relevant age groups. Compared with full-time nurses and midwives, part-time/casual/pool workers were significantly more likely to undertake cervical, breast and bowel screening. Compared with those working office hours, shift workers were significantly less likely to undertake breast and bowel screening, but more likely to undertake skin screening. Conclusions: Disparities in reported screening prevalence and factors predictive of screening uptake indicate opportunities for targeted strategies to inform and/or promote workforce engagement with screening programmes and protect the health of this ageing workforce. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd