Illustrated instructions for self-collection of anorectal swab specimens and their adequacy for cytological examination

Sex Transm Dis. 2006 Jun;33(6):386-8. doi: 10.1097/01.olq.0000204747.66265.2c.


Background: Self-collection of anorectal swab specimens would facilitate screening for anal cancer precursors and sexually transmitted rectal infections among men who have sex with men (MSM). However, pictorial guides for self-collection were not previously available.

Goals: Develop and field test a set of illustrated self-collection instructions.

Design: Cross-sectional study of community-recruited MSM who were naïve with regard to collection of specimens for anal cytology.

Results: Among 222 self- and clinician-collected swab pairs provided by mostly human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 seronegative MSM (median age, 31.5 years), most specimens were adequate for cytologic evaluation, though self-collected swabs were less likely to be so (83% versus 92%, P = <0.001). The illustrated instructions were reportedly essential, but having used them, men rated their understanding of the self-collection procedure as very high.

Conclusions: Provided with illustrated instructions, most MSM who are naïve to the technique can self-collect anorectal swab specimens that are suitable for screening.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anal Canal / microbiology
  • Anal Canal / pathology*
  • Anal Canal / virology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Homosexuality, Male*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Product Labeling
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic
  • Self Care*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / microbiology
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / pathology
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / virology
  • Specimen Handling
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic