Facilitators of and barriers to high-resolution anoscopy adherence among men who have sex with men: A qualitative study

Kaan Z. Apaydin, Andy Nguyen, Lori Panther, Derri L. Shtasel, Sannisha K. Dale, Christina P.C. Borba, Christopher S. Lathan, Kenneth Mayer, Alex S. Keuroghlian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Anal cancer is a rare malignancy that disproportionately affects men who have sex with men (MSM) and HIV-infected people. Anal cancer is associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) in upward of 90% of cases and is preceded by pre-cancerous changes in cells of the anal canal. High-resolution anoscopy (HRA) is used for the detection, treatment and continued monitoring of anal dysplasia. Practice guidelines regarding anal cancer prevention vary by jurisdiction and institution, and patient engagement is low for high-risk populations such as MSM. The purpose of this study is to characterise perceptions among MSM of barriers to and facilitators of their adherence to HRA follow-up recommendations. Methods: Surveys and in-person focus groups with MSM who were either adherent or non-adherent to HRA follow-up recommendations at a Federally Qualified Health Centre in Boston, MA, which specialises in sexual and gender minority care, were conducted. Facilitators of and barriers to follow-up were identified by deductive content analysis. Results: Focus group participants identified the following barriers to and facilitators of HRA follow up: (1) patient-level beliefs about HPV-related disease or HRA, ability to engage in care, internalised stigma and physical discomfort; (2) provider-level knowledge and expertise, communication skills and relationship-building with patient; and (3) systems-level societal stigma and healthcare system inefficiencies. Conclusions: Reinforcing facilitators of and reducing barriers to HRA follow up may improve adherence among MSM. This includes improvements to: patient education, provider training to increase knowledge and cultural sensitivity, public awareness about HPV-related anal cancer, physical discomfort associated with HRA and systems inefficiencies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-440
Number of pages10
JournalSexual Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2018


  • HIV
  • anal cancer
  • high-resolution anoscopy
  • human immunodeficiency virus; HPV
  • human papillomavirus
  • men who have sex with men

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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