Predictors of patient comfort and adherence with less frequent cervical cancer screening

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Background: The Papanicolaou (Pap) test is an effective, well-accepted screening tool that has led to a decrease in cervical cancer incidence and mortality. Updated evidence-based cervical cancer screening guidelines support less frequent testing in low-risk patients but have met resistance from providers and patients.

Aims: To assess patient knowledge about cervical cancer screening and attitudes toward recommendations for less frequent testing.

Methods: A hard copy of an eight-question survey was distributed to 389 women aged 30–64 years at two primary care clinics in Rochester, Minnesota, over a six-week period.

Results: The survey response rate was 86.8%. Of the 280 women who responded to a survey question about the cause of cervical cancer, 212 (75.7%) identified human papillomavirus (HPV) as the cause. Multivariable logistic regression analysis showed that this knowledge was not associated with feeling comfortable with a recommendation for less frequent testing or with support for less frequent testing. The only significant predictor of patient comfort and adherence with a two- to three-year Pap testing interval was the patient's belief about whether a Pap test was needed annually or every two or three years.

Conclusions: Patient belief about Pap testing frequency was the strongest predictor of attitude toward less frequent Pap testing and was not based on knowledge of HPV. Future studies should explore why some patients continue to expect annual testing and identify interventions to help providers elicit and change patients' expectations about cervical cancer screening.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Family Medicine, Mayo Clinic, 200 First St SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA. 2: Department of Family Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA 3: Office of Women's Health, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA 4: Office of Women's Health Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA 5: Division of Biomedical Statistics and Informatics, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA 6: Division of General Internal Medicine and Women's Health Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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