Women With Learning Disabilities: Risk Behaviours and Experiences of the Cervical Smear Test

J Adv Nurs. 2000 Oct;32(4):905-12.


This paper reports the findings of a study on the views and experiences of women with learning disabilities regarding the cervical smear test. The experience and opinions of the carers were also taken into account. The study was carried out between 1997 and 1999 in Cambridgeshire. The factors that influenced whether women with a learning disability had a smear test included: sexual activity; number of sexual partners; pregnancy; and a past history of smoking. Women with a learning disability who had a cervical smear test most often experienced pain and difficulty with the procedure. Factors that enable women with a learning disability to undergo a cervical smear test, according to their experiences, will be discussed in this paper. These include: the importance of prolonged preparation; issues surrounding communication; the giving of information; and support from the carers. The implications of these findings for collaborative working between learning disability nurses and primary healthcare professionals in clinical practice are highlighted.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Communication
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / nursing
  • Intellectual Disability / psychology*
  • Mass Screening / adverse effects
  • Mass Screening / nursing
  • Mass Screening / psychology*
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment
  • Nurse-Patient Relations
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Patient Selection
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vaginal Smears / adverse effects
  • Vaginal Smears / nursing
  • Vaginal Smears / psychology*
  • Vaginal Smears / statistics & numerical data
  • Women / psychology*