Objective: Our goals were to assess adherence to the National Cancer Institute clinical practice guideline for the management of atypical squamous cells of uncertain significance (ASCUS) Papanicolaou (Pap) test results in a community at high risk of cervical cancer. We also hoped to identify predictors of adherence to the guideline.
Study design: We used an historical cohort and collected data by chart abstraction.
Population: Our study included women receiving care in 7 urban community health centers who had an initial ASCUS or atypical Pap test result in 1996. We excluded women with a history of cervical dysplasia or human immunodeficiency virus infection, yielding a final sample of 387 women.
Outcomes: measured The outcome measured was the level of adherence to the guideline, defined as falling within 1 of 3 mutually exclusive categories (complete, moderate, or low).
Results: Care providers recommended colposcopy after an initial atypical Pap test result in 12% of cases and repeat cytology in 67%. Failure to document a plan for management was found in 19% of cases. Complete adherence was achieved for 27% of subjects, moderate adherence for 28%, and low adherence for 45%. The factors associated with complete versus moderate or low adherence included site of care, description of the abnormality (ASCUS vs atypia), availability of on-site colposcopy, and discussing the plan at a visit.
Conclusions: Adherence with the National Cancer Institute clinical practice guideline in this setting was disappointing and varied substantially by site. Factors amenable to change that may improve follow-up include good communication of results with patients and providing colposcopy at the site of primary care.