A 2-year follow-up study of anxiety and depression in women referred for colposcopy after an abnormal cervical smear

BJOG. 2008 Jan;115(2):212-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-0528.2007.01609.x.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine if there were any long-lasting elevated anxiety levels in women attending colposcopy after an abnormal cervical smear.

Design: Prospective study.

Setting: Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Malmö University Hospital, Sweden.

Population: One hundred consecutive women were invited to participate when referred for colposcopy.

Methods: Women in the study group completed the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale-self-rate (MADRS-S) and had a psychosocial interview prior to colposcopy at their two follow-up visits.

Main outcome measures: State anxiety levels and depression scores at first visit, 6 months and 2 years.

Results: At follow up, levels of state anxiety and the depression scores of the women studied had decreased and were comparable to those of Swedish normative data. Two variables from the MADRS-S, 'ability to focus on different activities' and 'emotional involvement with others and in activities' were the most prominent for women with moderate to severe depression. At the 2-year visit, 30% of the women still had a fear of cancer.

Conclusions: Referral for colposcopy after an abnormal cervical smear does not seem to result in long-lasting anxiety and depression. However, a subgroup of women, with the initially highest depression scores, still had at 2-year state anxiety levels and depression scores significantly higher than normal. Almost one-third of the women still had a fear of cancer in spite of lower 2-year state anxiety levels.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / etiology*
  • Colposcopy / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Vaginal Smears / psychology