Performance of Massachusetts HMOs in providing Pap smear and sexually transmitted disease screening to adolescent females

J Adolesc Health. 1998 Mar;22(3):184-9. doi: 10.1016/S1054-139X(97)00205-X.


Purpose: To describe the extent to which health maintenance organizations (HMOs) provide preventive health services to female adolescent enrollees.

Methods: All Massachusetts HMOs were asked to provide 1992 Papanicolaou (Pap) smear, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and human immunodeficiency virus test rates for adolescents from medical records and claims data. The rates were compared with criterion standards and national utilization data from the National Survey of Family Growth. Seven of 14 Massachusetts HMOs agreed to provide data for female members aged 15-21 years on the Pap smear rate (n = 34,415) and sexually transmitted disease (STD) test rate (n = 33,701).

Results: Papanicolaou smear rates for females in the HMOs ranged from 5% of 15-year-olds to 45% of 21-year-olds during 1992. Test rates for chlamydia and gonorrhea ranged from 2% and 3%, respectively, for 15-year-olds to 9% and 10% for 21-year-olds. Among 15-19-year-old females, only 18% received a Pap smear, and only 11% received an STD test through their HMO during 1992, despite professional guidelines recommending that all of the estimated 53% of sexually active females age 15-19 years should receive both Pap smears and STD tests. Among 18-21-year-old females, only 37% had had a Pap smear through their HMO during 1992, despite professional guidelines recommending Pap smears for all women age 18 years and over.

Conclusions: Efforts are needed within HMOs to ensure that STD screening, Pap smears, and other health screening services are provided for sexually active adolescent enrollees.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Chlamydia Infections / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Gonorrhea / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis
  • Health Maintenance Organizations / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Massachusetts
  • Papanicolaou Test*
  • Preventive Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control
  • Syphilis / diagnosis
  • Vaginal Smears / statistics & numerical data*