Psychological distress associated with colposcopy: patients' perception

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2008 Jul;139(1):90-4. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2007.09.001. Epub 2007 Nov 5.


Objective: Cervical screening and colposcopy are associated with varying degrees of anxiety in women. Interventions are in place to reduce anxiety but the effectiveness of these needs examination. Our objective was to develop an understanding of factors associated with anxiety in relation to colposcopy and to seek women's opinion on interventions designed to reduce anxiety.

Study design: Prospective, anonymised survey. Determination of anxiety level and effectiveness of interventions within the colposcopy experience, i.e. information leaflet, video-screen display, nursing and medical intervention and exploration of medical terms, i.e. 'CIN'.

Results: Prior to attendance 36% of patients felt they were very worried, 54% slightly worried and 10% not worried. All patients found the standardised NHS information leaflet helpful to a variable degree. During colposcopy 30% of patients found watching on a video-screen display very helpful, whilst a significant number (18%) found it increased their worry. Stratification of results showed that women with pre-existing high level of anxiety were least satisfied with indices examined.

Conclusion: Our results indicate that the higher the index level of anxiety regarding colposcopy, the less likely women were to find either the leaflet or the video-screen display helpful. Research should focus on the 'very anxious' women, as they are least satisfied with existing measures in place to reduce anxiety. However, evidence is presented to imply this may not be possible.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colposcopy / psychology*
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis*