Objective: Cervical cancer screening using the human papillomavirus (HPV) test and Pap test together (co-testing) is an option for average-risk women ≥ 30 years of age. With normal co-test results, screening intervals can be extended. The study objective is to assess primary care provider practices, beliefs, facilitators and barriers to using the co-test and extending screening intervals among low-income women.
Method: Data were collected from 98 providers in 15 Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) clinics in Illinois between August 2009 and March 2010 using a cross-sectional survey.
Results: 39% of providers reported using the co-test, and 25% would recommend a three-year screening interval for women with normal co-test results. Providers perceived greater encouragement for co-testing than for extending screening intervals with a normal co-test result. Barriers to extending screening intervals included concerns about patients not returning annually for other screening tests (77%), patient concerns about missing cancer (62%), and liability (52%).
Conclusion: Among FQHC providers in Illinois, few administered the co-test for screening and recommended appropriate intervals, possibly due to concerns over loss to follow-up and liability. Education regarding harms of too-frequent screening and false positives may be necessary to balance barriers to extending screening intervals.
Keywords: Cervical cancer screening; HPV testing; Screening guidelines.
Published by Elsevier Inc.