Confusion About Pap Smears: Lack of Knowledge Among High-Risk Women.
ABSTRACT Abstract Background: The impact of the Papanicolaou (Pap) smear on the prevention of cervical cancer is one of the greatest public health success stories. However, it is not clear if women understand the purpose of the Pap smear despite recent advancements and national attention over cervical cancer prevention. The purpose of this study was to examine Pap smear knowledge among three high-risk populations at different points in time. Methods: Women from three separate human papillomavirus (HPV) psychosocial studies completed surveys assessing Pap smear knowledge: (1) HPV-positive women (prevaccine population in 2005-2006, n=154, mean age 23.5), (2) college women (postvaccine population in 2008, n=276, mean age 18.9), and (3) minority college women (postvaccine population in 2011, n=711, mean age 23.3). Frequencies and logistic regression were employed to examine associations between demographic factors and accurate knowledge of Pap smear testing within each study. Results: Approximately one quarter of participants across all three samples did not know that the Pap smear is a test for cervical cancer. Participants also incorrectly believed that the Pap smear tests for HPV (82%-91%), vaginal infections (76%-92%), yeast infections (65%-86%), gonorrhea (55%-81%), herpes (53%-80%), HIV/AIDS (22%-59%), and pregnancy (17%-38%). Among all three studies, older age was the only factor significant with higher Pap knowledge. Higher HPV knowledge scores were significantly associated with higher Pap knowledge in studies 2 and 3 only. Conclusions: Knowledge about the purpose of the Pap smear remains low. Findings underscore the significant need for clear and consistent messages among high-risk women regarding the prevention of cervical cancer and other reproductive health conditions.
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ABSTRACT: Pap test screening among African-American women has substantially increased. However, African-American women continue to bear the burden of cervical cancer as compared to White women. The objective of this study was to assess the influence of Pap test knowledge on cervical screening history among young African-American women. Between January and April 2009, 320 women from historically black colleges and universities located in the southeastern United States who met study inclusion criteria completed an anonymous self-report questionnaire to assess their awareness, knowledge, and behaviors related to human papillomavirus and cervical cancer prevention and control. Seventy-six percent of women reported ever having a Pap test, 54 % reported having a Pap test less than 1 year ago, and 25 % reported ever having an abnormal Pap test result. The overall mean score on the six-point Pap test knowledge scale was 4.46 ± 1.02. Women who reported having an abnormal Pap test (4.96 ± 0.82) had significantly higher Pap test knowledge compared to those never having an abnormal result (4.49 ± 1.04), p < 0.01. No other differences were found. Efforts to improve Pap test knowledge among all women, including those with no prior abnormal Pap test history, are critical to cervical cancer prevention and control over the life course. Such efforts should include creating information that is relevant to the population and enables informed decision making about cervical health.Journal of Cancer Education 02/2014; 29(3). DOI:10.1007/s13187-013-0543-4 · 1.05 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Contrary to the optimistic forecasts, existing until 2008 and despite the incorporation of the vaccine into the Greek National Immunization Program, six years later, the percentage of HPV vaccination coverage in Greece remains disappointingly low. The aim of this extended study was to investigate the knowledge, behaviour and attitude of a representative sample of the initial target group; young female students of Greek higher education institutions to Pap cervical screening, biology of HPV infection and principles of HPV vaccination.Study designCross-sectional study.Methods One thousand two hundred ten (1210) questionnaires were completed by young female students aged 17–24 years. The survey questionnaire sought data relating to sociodemographic characteristics, health behaviour and knowledge about HPV, as well as vaccination status.Results79.6% of the sample reported at least one annual gynaecologic examination and 92.6% were familiar with the rationale of cervical screening; however only 52.9% had undergone a Pap smear. 69.7% reported adequate knowledge about HPV and 89.3% were aware of the possible course of HPV infection. Despite most (95.9%) were aware of vaccine availability, vaccinated students represented only 33.1%. According to the multivariate analysis, vaccination status was associated with university studies (OR 1.96; 95% CI: 1.19–3.20), parental area of expertise (OR 2.77; 95% CI: 1.18–6.53, OR 2.03; 95% CI: 1.05–3.94), and adequate knowledge of the reasons for which women should undergo regular cervical screening (OR 4.23; 85% CI: 1.55–11.55). Fear of side-effects and equivocal information were the main reasons of non-vaccination (52.2% and 33.1% respectively). Finally, the majority of unvaccinated individuals showed a positive attitude towards prospective HPV vaccination, providing they received well-documented advising.Conclusions Young women attending Greek higher education exhibit a good level of knowledge about HPV and its correlation with cervical cancer. These data highlight the need for further sensitization of the general population.Public Health 11/2014; 128(12). DOI:10.1016/j.puhe.2014.09.005 · 1.48 Impact Factor