Background: An evaluation was conducted to assess patient perceptions and comfort levels with a new triennial Pap smear screening guideline.
Methods: A random sample of women ages 20-69 (N = 673) was selected among members of three provider groups within a large health maintenance organization and mailed a survey. Questions pertained to Pap smear history and perceptions of the new guideline.
Results: The overall response rate was 63%. Over one-half of respondents had no recollection of being informed about the change in recommendation. Fourteen percent of subjects responded positively to the change, 16% were neutral, 20% were skeptical, and 50% made negative comments. Women significantly more likely to be negative or skeptical about the new guide line were those who reported more frequent prior Pap smears (P < 0.0001), those reporting a history of abnormal Pap smear (P < 0.01), and more educated women (P < 0.05). No statistical differences were found for those reporting a recent abnormal result, or based on provider group, age, or recollection of being informed.
Conclusions: Regardless of patient knowledge and intellectual understanding of screening intervals, this new guideline raises patient concern about preventive care. More must be done to educate women regarding the change in recommended screening frequency and the reasons for it.
Copyright 1999 American Health Foundation and Academic Press.