Improving compliance among women with abnormal Papanicolaou smears

Obstet Gynecol. 1995 Sep;86(3):353-9. doi: 10.1016/0029-7844(95)00176-R.


Objective: To determine whether a clinic-based intervention, consisting of motivational brochures and a tracking system, increases adherence to recommendations for treatment in women with abnormal Papanicolaou smears.

Methods: Three pairs of clinics--two family planning clinics, two family practice clinics, and two dysplasia clinics--were randomized within pairs either to provide the intervention or to maintain usual contact procedures with women having abnormal Papanicolaou smears. Baseline adherence rates were assessed through chart review during 3 randomly selected months of the previous year. Intervention clinics received the tracking system and motivational brochures, which were sent to women on notification of their cervical abnormalities. Comparison clinics also used the tracking system but did not include the brochures when notifying women of their abnormalities. Adherence rates were assessed prospectively for approximately 100 consecutive nonpregnant women with abnormal Papanicolaou smears (inflammatory benign atypia, or cervical intraepithelial neoplasia I, II, or III) at each clinic.

Results: Within clinics, baseline adherence rates ranged from 34-69% for atypia and 33-88% for dysplasia. For dysplasia patients, the overall analysis indicated a significant increase in adherence for the intervention clinics (P = .03); however, for atypia patients, the observed difference was not statistically significant (P = .23). Extensive analyses of the data from family planning clinics indicated that women receiving the intervention were more likely to obtain follow-up treatment (odds ratio [OR] 2.6, 95% confidence interval 1.15-5.85). There was a suggestion that the intervention could have a greater effect among African-American women (OR 15.7) compared with white women (OR 1.8) (P = .09). White women, those with dysplasia, nonsmokers, and nulliparas were most likely to adhere to treatment recommendations.

Conclusion: A motivational brochure can enhance adherence to treatment recommendations among women with abnormal Papanicolaou smears. Future studies should focus on techniques for enhancing adherence among more resistant participants.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aftercare
  • Appointments and Schedules*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Motivation
  • Pamphlets
  • Papanicolaou Test*
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Uterine Cervical Dysplasia / prevention & control*
  • Uterine Cervical Dysplasia / psychology
  • Vaginal Smears*