Objectives: This study was undertaken in mid-1994 and assessed how accurately patients recall the recency and result of their most recent cholesterol and Papanicolaou (Pap) tests.
Methods: A cross-sectional, door-to-door community survey was used to gather self-report and, subsequently, pathology laboratory data for 195 individuals.
Results: In regard to cholesterol screening, 30% of individuals who reported being adequately screened were actually inadequately screened, 45% who reported normal cholesterol levels actually had elevated levels, and 21% of inadequately screened individuals and 56% of individuals with elevated levels were not identified by self-report. In terms of Pap screening, 28% of women who reported being adequately screened were actually inadequately screened, 11% of patients who reported a normal Pap test actually had abnormal or inadequate results, and 55% of inadequately screened individuals and 53% of individuals with abnormal or inadequate results were not identified by self-report.
Conclusions: This study revealed self-report to be a less-than-adequate measure of individuals' recall of cholesterol and Pap screening. Relying exclusively on self-report surveys as indicators of screening coverage is likely to result in significant underestimations of the proportion of people who are inadequately screened or whose results indicate a need for intervention.