Cervical cytology screening practices among obstetrician-gynecologists

Obstet Gynecol. 2003 Aug;102(2):259-65. doi: 10.1016/s0029-7844(03)00565-9.


Objective: To estimate the current cervical cytology screening practices of American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Fellows, to establish a baseline for tracking future changes in practice.

Methods: Questionnaires were mailed to a random sample of ACOG Fellows (n = 599) and to a group of Fellows who have regularly participated in past ACOG surveys (n = 409). The questionnaires asked about current cytology screening and evaluation practices and presented clinical practice vignettes with additional questions. Descriptive statistical methods were used to evaluate the responses.

Results: Questionnaires were returned by 651 physicians (64.6%); 624 were complete. More than 94% of the respondents start cytology testing at age 18 years. Almost three fourths (74.2%) continue screening indefinitely. More than 80% use a liquid-based method of collection. Almost two thirds (65.1%) order human papillomavirus testing occasionally, usually (81.9%) for reports of atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS). Most Fellows in the sample perform colposcopy for an ASCUS result. Reports of atypical glandular cells resulted in variable approaches to further evaluation. Patient age and history were important variables for all test reports. Legal concerns were mentioned as important determinants of practice patterns.

Conclusion: In this sample of ACOG Fellows, most perform cervical cytology and evaluate abnormal results in accord with guidelines in place before the recommended changes in screening and evaluation were published in 2003.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Colposcopy
  • Female
  • Gynecology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obstetrics
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Vaginal Smears / standards
  • Vaginal Smears / statistics & numerical data*