What Australian women want and when they want it: cervical screening testing preferences, decision-making styles and information needs

Health Expect. 2013 Jun;16(2):177-88. doi: 10.1111/j.1369-7625.2011.00707.x. Epub 2011 Jul 4.


Background: New testing technologies and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines have recently brought changes to cervical cancer screening. In 2006, the Australian government also changed the protocol for managing abnormal Pap smears. Australian women's attitudes and preferences to these changes are largely unknown. Quantitative data on information needs and community attitudes to informed decision making in screening in Australia are also limited.

Objective: This national study measures women's preferences for testing and management of abnormal screening results, preferred decision-making styles and information needs for cervical cancer screening.

Design: A randomly selected sample of Australian women aged 18-70 participated in a structured telephone questionnaire, exploring testing preferences, information and decision-making needs.

Results: A total of 1279, of 1571 eligible women, participated in the study with an overall response rate of 81.4%. Half of the women (n = 637) preferred having their Pap smears at least annually, and 85% wanted concurrent HPV testing. A large proportion of women preferred to be involved in decision making for both routine Pap smears (87%) and follow-up for abnormal results (89%). The majority of women wanted information on screening risks (70%) and benefits (77%); of these 81 (85%) wanted this information before screening. However, 63% of women only wanted information about follow-up examinations if they had an abnormal Pap test result.

Conclusion: Australian women want to be involved in decision making for cervical cancer screening and require information on the risks and benefits of Pap testing prior to undergoing any screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Decision Making
  • Early Detection of Cancer / psychology*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Information Seeking Behavior
  • Middle Aged
  • Papanicolaou Test / psychology
  • Papanicolaou Test / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Preference / psychology
  • Patient Preference / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Young Adult