Published in Cancer Detection and Prevention 1997; 21(1):103-109.

Knowledge of Cervical Cancer Screening Among Women Attending Urban Colposcopy Clinics

L Stewart Massad MD1, Peter Meyer PhD2, John Hobbs MD1

1Section of Gynecologic Oncology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Rush Medical College and Cook County Hospital, Chicago, IL; 2Section of Biostatistics, Rush-Presbyterian- St. Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, IL; 3Section of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Rush Prudential HMO, Chicago, IL

Address all correspondence and reprint requests to: L. Stewart Massad, MD, 600 South Paulina St., Pavilion 720, Chicago, IL 60612.

ABSTRACT: To determine knowledge about cervical cancer screening among women referred to urban colposcopy clinics and to assess effects of colposcopy and directed teaching on knowledge deficits, a closed-ended questionnaire was distributed to 144 women at a university resident clinic before and after initial colposcopy. Results were compared with those of 42 patients attending a health maintenance organization (HMO) for the same procedure. Fewer than half of clinic patients correctly identified the nature of a Pap smear or the reason for their referral, but 84% knew that Pap smears were indicated annually. Fewer than 60% knew the nature of colposcopy or the organ that it evaluated, but 74% could identify its indication. Clinic patients' knowledge of colposcopy but not of Pap smears improved after colposcopy and teaching. While HMO patients had better overall understanding of Pap smears and colposcopy, a multivariate analysis found educational level to be the only significant predictor of this knowledge. Efforts to boost cervical cancer screening through improved understanding should be directed toward women with the least schooling without regard to other demographic factors.

KEY WORDS: cervical cancer, cancer screening, patient education.