Women's experiences in coping with abnormal Papanicolaou results and follow-up colposcopy

J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. May-Jun 1999;28(3):283-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1552-6909.1999.tb01993.x.


Objectives: To delineate the primary concerns women associate with abnormal Papanicolaou (Pap) results and colposcopy and to identify women's strategies for coping with these potential stressors.

Design: A longitudinal, descriptive study involving telephone interviews after participants received abnormal Pap results and mailed questionnaires before and after colposcopy.

Setting: Private and public women's health clinics in the midwestern United States.

Participants: Seventy-five women who had abnormal Pap results and needed initial colposcopy completed telephone interviews; 40 completed a precolposcopy questionnaire and 35 completed a postcolposcopy questionnaire.

Main outcome measures: Clients' concerns and coping strategies were assessed after they learned their Pap results were abnormal, the day before colposcopy, and the day after the procedure.

Results: Women's primary concerns involved not understanding the Pap results, cancer, or infertility. Coping strategies used most, and rated as helpful throughout the experience, were seeking social support and distraction.

Conclusions: Nursing interventions can be designed to improve women's understanding of the meaning of abnormal Pap results, address concerns about abnormal Pap results, and encourage women to use social support and distraction while awaiting colposcopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Colposcopy / nursing
  • Colposcopy / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Midwestern United States
  • Papanicolaou Test*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Papillomavirus Infections / psychology
  • Tumor Virus Infections / diagnosis
  • Tumor Virus Infections / psychology
  • Uterine Cervical Dysplasia / diagnosis
  • Uterine Cervical Dysplasia / psychology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / psychology
  • Vaginal Smears / nursing
  • Vaginal Smears / psychology*