Improving follow-up after an abnormal Pap smear: a randomized controlled trial

Prev Med. 1990 Nov;19(6):630-41. doi: 10.1016/0091-7435(90)90060-w.


Less than 60% of women diagnosed with cervical abnormalities on Pap smears return for proper surveillance and timely treatment. Previous tactics used to motivate these women to return have mainly relied on costly intensive recall efforts. Using a framework based on psychological value expectancy theory, a pamphlet was designed to motivate women with abnormal Pap smears to return for a repeat Pap smear. The effect of this pamphlet was tested in a randomized controlled trial. A total of 161 women with abnormal Pap smears were randomized and received either the pamphlet plus a notification letter or the letter only. The compliance rate was 64.2% in the intervention group and 51.3% in the comparison group (P = 0.10; two-tailed). In addition, subgroups of women who do not practice health-related behaviors were identified as groups where more intensive interventions may be needed. These results have implications for future strategies used to recall women with abnormal Pap smears.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Motivation
  • Pamphlets*
  • Papanicolaou Test*
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Patient Education as Topic / standards*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Uterine Cervical Dysplasia / diagnosis
  • Uterine Cervical Dysplasia / pathology
  • Uterine Cervical Dysplasia / psychology*
  • Vaginal Smears*