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Women's interpretation of cervical smear test results



Women's interpretation of cervical smear test results



Cytopathology 15(3): 142-147



Screening for cervical cancer using the Papanicolaou smear test has been available in England since the 1960s, yet very little is known about how women interpret their test results. This questionnaire study required women to explain, in their own words, the meaning of normal and abnormal test results. It was discovered that the use of the word cell as a description of findings was extremely common, and that a proportion of subjects equated abnormal results with technical inadequacy. The frequency of circularity in the interpretations, i.e. interpreting 'normal' as 'not abnormal' and vice versa, was striking. Contrary to previous research, we find that, whilst many women interpret normal results as indicating the current absence of cancer, few appear to believe that future cancer is thereby definitively ruled out. By the same token, only a very small minority interpret abnormal results as definitive of cancer.

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Accession: 050986617

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 15165270

DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2303.2004.00137.x


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