Background: Cervical cancer screening is not fully utilized among all groups of women in the United States, especially women without access to health care and older women.
Methods: Papanicolaou (Pap) test use among U.S. women age 18 and older is examined using data from the 2000 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).
Results: Among women who had not had a hysterectomy (n = 13,745), 83% reported having had a Pap test within the past 3 years. Logistic regression analyses showed that women with no contact with a primary care provider in the past year were very unlikely to have reported a recent Pap test. Other characteristics associated with lower rates of Pap test use included lacking a usual source of care, low family income, low educational attainment, and being unmarried. Having no health insurance coverage was associated with lower Pap test use among women under 65. Despite higher insurance coverage, being age 65 and older was associated with low use. Rates of recent Pap test were higher among African-American women.
Conclusions: Policies to generalize insurance coverage and a usual source of health care would likely increase use of Pap testing. Also needed are health system changes such as automated reminders to assist health care providers implement appropriate screening. Renewed efforts by physicians and targeted public health messages are needed to improve screening among older women without a prior Pap test.