Qualitative Exploration of the Therapeutic Process Facilitating Appointments at the My Body Back Cervical Screening Service for Women who Have Experienced Sexual Violence.

Ashleigh Madigan

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Despite the effectiveness of cervical screening (CS) at reducing rates of cervical cancer, around a third of those invited do not attend. Women who have experienced sexual violence (SV) are less likely to attend CS. Research exploring barriers to attending discusses the triggering nature of CS and the link with feelings of low self-worth and shame. Compassion focussed approaches are effective in reducing shame and in working with people who have experienced SV.
The current study aims to understand therapeutic processes related to positive engagement at a specialist CS. The My Body Back (MBB) clinic offers specialist CS and maternity care for people who have experienced SV. The current study also aims to explore the role of shame and compassion in these processes. Nine participants who had attended a CS at MBB completed a semi-structured interview. The mean age of participants was 32 (range = 26 - 36), all participants had at least a bachelor’s degree and most had a CS before their attendance at MBB.
Results from reflexive thematic analysis show 18 sub-themes and five overarching themes: ‘Experiences of retraumatising CS: feeling ashamed and anxious about the future’, ‘Trauma-informed care at MBB: the little things show they care’, ‘Receiving and building compassion’, ‘“Treated like a human": The effects of receiving compassionate care’, ‘Reflecting on what’s important in the future of services’.
The findings demonstrate that participants were provided with person-centred TIC and felt they received compassion from staff, which enabled their engagement with the appointment. Compassionate constructs involved in the therapeutic process are discussed. This appointment helped to reduce experiences of shame, increase self-compassion, and facilitate feelings of CS task self-efficacy. Research should be done on the applicability of this model of care to other areas of healthcare.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Evangeli, Michael, Supervisor
  • Vosper, Jane, Supervisor
Award date1 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Cite this