Adherence to guidelines for follow-up of low-grade cytologic abnormalities among medically underserved women

Obstet Gynecol. 2005 Jun;105(6):1323-8. doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000159549.56601.75.


Objective: To determine whether women in the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) who had findings on a Papanicolaou (Pap) test of atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASC-US) or low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (LSIL) were followed up in accordance with the interim guidelines for management of abnormal cervical cytology.

Methods: For this study period, the guidelines for a Pap result of ASC-US or LSIL specified follow-up by Pap tests repeated every 4 to 6 months for 2 years. If a second report of ASC-US or LSIL was made, the patient was to have colposcopy. We analyzed data from 10,004 women who had a result of ASC-US or LSIL followed by a second ASC-US or LSIL from 1991-2000.

Results: As judged by the guidelines, 44% of women who had 2 low-grade abnormalities were followed up appropriately with colposcopy. Among women with 2 ASC-US results, those aged less than 30 years were more likely to receive colposcopy than the other age groups, while women who were aged 60 years and older were more likely to be followed up with a third Pap test. For each of the 4 result groups, American Indian or Alaska Native women had the highest percentages of a third Pap test, whereas Black or African-American women had a higher percentage of no follow-up.

Conclusion: More than one half of the women studied were not followed up in accordance with the established guidelines for managing abnormal cervical cytology. Factors such as age and race or ethnicity influence whether women with cytologic abnormalities receive appropriate follow-up.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Black People
  • Colposcopy
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American
  • Inuit
  • Medically Underserved Area*
  • Middle Aged
  • Papanicolaou Test*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Racial Groups
  • United States
  • Vaginal Smears*