The psychological impact of human papillomavirus testing in women with borderline or mildly dyskaryotic cervical smear test results: 6-month follow-up

Br J Cancer. 2005 Mar 28;92(6):990-4. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6602411.


State anxiety (S-STAI-6), distress (GHQ-12), concern and quality of life (EuroQoL-EQ-5D) 6 months after human papillomavirus (HPV) testing in women with borderline or mildly dyskaryotic smear test results were assessed based on a prospective questionnaire study, with 6-month follow-up after the smear test result. Two centres participated in an English pilot study of HPV testing. Participants included two groups of women receiving abnormal smear test results: (tested for HPV and found to be (a) HPV positive (n=369) or (b) HPV negative (n=252)) and two groups not tested for HPV (those receiving (c) abnormal smear test results (n=102) or (d) normal smear test results (n=288)). There were no differences in anxiety, distress or health-related quality of life between the four study groups at 6 months. Levels of concern about the smear test result remained elevated in all groups receiving an abnormal smear test result, and were highest in the group untested for HPV. Predictors of concern across all groups receiving an abnormal smear test were perceived risk of developing cancer, being HPV positive or untested for HPV, sexual health worries and the smear being a woman's first smear test. The raised anxiety and distress observed in women immediately after being informed of an abnormal smear test result and that they are HPV positive was no longer evident at 6 months. Concern about the smear test result was however still raised in these women and those who tested negative for HPV, and particularly among those who did not undergo HPV testing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / etiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Papillomaviridae / isolation & purification*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / psychology*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Uterine Cervical Dysplasia / psychology*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Vaginal Smears / psychology*