A review of cervical cancer screening intervention research: implications for public health programs and future research

Prev Med. 1998 Jan-Feb;27(1):13-31. doi: 10.1006/pmed.1997.0251.


In this paper we review the published literature with respect to cervical cancer screening intervention research. Mass media campaigns appear to work best in promoting cervical cancer screening when multiple media are used, when they promote specific screening programs that eliminate or reduce access barriers, or when they are used in combination with other strategies. Many positive examples of using outreach staff to promote cervical cancer screening, as well as using mobile examination rooms in the community, were found. Substantial evidence that letters mailed to patient populations are efficacious was found, especially in promoting interval screening; however, bulk mailings to nonpatient populations have generally not been successful. Both physician and patient prompts have shown promise as well as opportunistic screenings in both the outpatient and the inpatient settings. In addition, several strategies for reducing loss to follow-up among women with abnormal test results were identified, including telephone follow-up, educational mailouts, audiovisual programs, clinic-based educational presentations and workshops, transportation incentives, and economic vouchers. Of special note is the success of other countries in establishing centralized recall systems to promote interval screening for cervical cancer. Ultimately, such systems could replace the need for opportunistic screening in underserved populations and perhaps many community outreach efforts. It is argued that health departments represent a logical starting point for developing a network of recall systems in the United States for underserved women.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Health Services Research* / trends
  • Humans
  • Mass Media
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Public Health / methods
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control*