Building a Better Health Service


Young Scientists Focus on CervicalCheck

A group of transition year students from Kinsale Community School are competing for an award at this weekend’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition in the RDS. Their project on cervical screening will be entered in the Social and Behavioural Sciences category.

Aisling Hurley, Abby Fay and Aoife O’Leary got the idea for their project when Aisling saw her mother wearing the ‘Pearls of Wisdom’ campaign pin. ‘Pearls of Wisdom’ is an annual campaign, run in Ireland by HSE’s CervicalCheck and the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) in January. Pearl of Wisdom is the symbol the European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week. It urges women aged 25 – 60 to check when their next free smear test is due on or by calling CervicalCheck on 1800 45 45 55.

Young Scientist

The students collected responses from more than 600 women in late 2017 for their project entitled ‘A statistical analysis of women’s knowledge of cervical screening and what influences them to attend for screening’. Their results found that while awareness of the cervical screening programme was high, 1 in 7 of the women who responded had not had a smear test in the previous 5 years. The thing that most influenced the respondents to attend their free smear test was advice from their GP, postnatal advice and receiving an invitation from CervicalCheck

“We were a little afraid to take this on as a topic because we know it’s such a sensitive one for women but we were delighted with the response and thrilled to be able to raise awareness of the cervical screening programme that is available in Ireland to our peers and to women generally. All girls of our age will be coming into the screening programme in a few years so it’s important for us to know it exists and how important it is” said Aisling.

Professor Grainne Flannelly from the HSE’s National Cervical Screening Programme said “It’s great to see the Pearl of Wisdom campaign spark interest for this project on CervicalCheck. We’re particularly pleased with the result that more than 93% of the respondents are aware of CervicalCheck, and that two thirds of women don’t see any barrier to going for a smear or cervical screening test.”

“One of the key benefits of an organised screening programme is the ability to remind women when their next smear test is due and we are very interested in the feedback from the respondents that they would welcome the development of electronic reminders. It’s worth noting that any woman can check when their next smear test is due using the web-enabled checker on the CervicalCheck website. The idea of an app is certainly something that the programme will explore and I wish to extend my congratulations to Aoife, Aisling and Abby for this valuable research” she added.

Now in it’s 54th year, the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition takes place in the RDS, Dublin from 10 – 13 January 2018. 4,591 students from 375 schools entered 2,091 projects in 2017. Over 140 awards will be presented on Friday 12th 2018.


European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, takes place from 28 Jan – 3 Feb. This year, women are being encouraged to check when their next smear test is due on