Are self-collected samples comparable to physician-collected cervical specimens for human papillomavirus DNA testing? A systematic review and meta-analysis

Gynecol Oncol. 2007 May;105(2):530-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2007.01.023. Epub 2007 Feb 28.


Objective: To compare the detection rate of genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in self- and physician-obtained samples.

Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data sources: Studies published between 1966 and November 2005 identified through Medline and Embase that compared both sampling methods.

Main outcome measures: We calculated the concordance and kappa statistic between physician- and self-sampling and the difference between proportions of HPV positive samples. Weighted averages were reported with 95% confidence intervals (CI) using a random-effects model.

Results: Eighteen studies (5441 participants) were included that evaluated broad HPV type categories, 10 (3688 patients) that of high-risk (HR) HPV and three (530) that of low-risk (LR) HPV. A high level of concordance of 0.87 (95%CI, 0.82 to 0.91) between self- and physician-sampling was obtained for detection of HPV DNA (kappa 0.66, 95%CI, 0.56 to 0.76). The prevalence difference of HPV DNA between sampling methods was -0.5 (95%CI, -2.8 to 1.8). Results were similar when restricting the analysis to HR-HPV but the prevalence of LR-HPV types was higher in self-collected samples.

Conclusion: Self-sampling was as sensitive as physician-obtained sampling to detect HR-HPV or HPV DNA. Self-sampling may be a suitable alternative method for studies on HPV transmission and vaccine trials.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cervix Uteri / virology*
  • DNA, Viral / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Papillomaviridae / genetics
  • Papillomaviridae / isolation & purification*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / virology
  • Physician's Role
  • Self-Examination
  • Specimen Handling / methods*
  • Vaginal Smears


  • DNA, Viral