Objectives: This study evaluates the efficacy of two interventions designed to reduce loss-to-follow-up among women with abnormal Pap smears.
Methods: The two interventions were evaluated in two large public hospitals using a randomized 2 x 2 factorial design. One intervention involved an intensive follow-up protocol that relied on multiple attempts (mail and telephone) to contact the patient. The second intervention provided patients with economic vouchers to offset out-of-pocket expenses associated with the follow-up visits. Loss-to-follow-up was addressed by medical chart reviews and telephone interviews.
Results: The study population (n = 1453) was primarily Hispanic, married or otherwise living with a significant other, relatively young in age, and with no source of payment for health care. Overall, 30% of the total sample was loss-to-follow-up (i.e., no return visits). Among patients assigned to the control condition, loss-to-follow-up was 36.1% compared with 27.8% for the intensive follow-up condition, 28.8% for the voucher condition, and 29.0% for the intensive follow-up plus voucher condition. Both intervention conditions significantly improved follow-up rates. The odds ratio for intensive follow-up was 1.56 compared with 1.50 for the voucher intervention. The combined intervention condition (intensive follow-up x voucher program) did not have a significant effect after taking into account the main effects of the two interventions. Correlates of loss-to-follow-up included age (younger women had lower return rates), race/ethnicity (African American women had lower return rates), live-in relationship (women who were not married or living as married had lower return rates), and severity of the abnormal Pap smear (less severe abnormalities were associated with lower return rates).
Conclusions: Both interventions were associated with moderate reductions in loss-to-follow-up in this underserved population. The implications of these findings are discussed relative to implementing cervical cancer control programs within state and local health departments.