5 Minutes that Matter

Our campaign seeks to raise awareness of the importance of attending routine cervical screenings, and support more women to make an informed decision about whether or not to take up their invitations.

Campaign Logo for the Five Minutes That Matter Cervical Screening WI Campaign

Coronavirus Update

Cervical screening programmes have been impacted by the Covid-19 lockdown period. If you have questions or concerns about what this means for you, visit Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trusts’ website for the latest information and to access support and advice: https://www.jostrust.org.uk/information/coronavirus/faqs


Cervical screening checks the health of your cervix. While it’s not a test for cancer, regular cervical screening (also referred to as a ‘smear test’) is the best way for abnormal cells to be picked up early and treated (if necessary) to prevent cancer developing.

It is estimated that the test currently prevents 70% of cervical cancer deaths. However, this figure could be 83% if all eligible women attended. Cervical screening is a choice, and attendance is currently at a 21-year low.

Launched in 2019, our 5 Minutes that Matters campaign seeks to raise awareness of the importance of attending routine cervical screenings, and support more women to make an informed decision about whether or not to take up their invitations.

What we have achieved so far

WI members have been raising awareness of the importance of this issue and challenging myths surrounding cervical screening and cervical cancer, including by taking part in national awareness weeks and organising local events. Members have shared personal accounts of cervical screening to improve understanding and support others who may be going through similar experiences.

Between August and October 2020, we carried out a survey to understand attitudes towards cervical screening and sampling methods in England and Wales. All women and people with a cervix aged 25 and over were invited to take part.

The research showed strong support for HPV-self sampling, which is currently being trialled in England. It found that among those eligible for screening in the 25-64 age group, 67 per cent would like the option of home HPV tests, saying that a self-sampling kit would be more convenient.

Other figures showed that:

  • 50 per cent said that a self-sampling kit would be less embarrassing
  • 42 per cent said they would prefer to take a test at home
  • 38 per cent said it would be less uncomfortable or painful
  • 34 per cent said they would feel more in control

Download our research briefings:

How you can get involved

  1. In support of our mandate, we are working with King’s College London to promote a study that has been funded by Cancer Research UK. The researchers at Kings College London who are conducting the study are looking for women aged 25-64 in England to take part in an online survey. The survey is about the use of pictures and other information in cervical screening materials and will help improve understanding of cervical screening attitudes and uptake.
    This is a pilot study and will provide valuable insights to inform the final survey which will be conducted with a larger and more representative sample of women. You can complete the survey anonymously.
    The survey should take around 10 minutes to complete and is open until 4 July 2022.
    If you are interested, please click on the link to find out more and take part: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ZBVJN6W
  2. Check out our campaign action pack to learn more about the issue and find out about other ways to participate. Download it here.
  3. Share our leaflet on HPV and cervical screening to raise awareness of HPV and how it is passed on, and to help people understand their screening results.
  4. Read and share our myth-busting flyer. Click here.
  5. Using our template letter, write to your Clinical Commissioning Group in England or Local Health Board in Wales to ask for their support in considering strategies to help improve uptake of cervical screening where capacity and the challenges of Covid-19 allow.
    Write to your MP to share the key findings of the WI’s 2020 research on cervical screening.
    Contact pa@nfwi.org.uk for template letters you can use.

If you are not already a WI member, the members decide the WI campaigns through a democratic vote. We would love to welcome a new WI member, please click here for further details.

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