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Acceptable and Preferred Cervical Cancer Screening Intervals Among U.S. Women



Current U.S. cervical cancer screening guidelines recommend a 3- or 5-year screening interval depending on age and screening modality. However, many women continue to be screened annually. The purpose of this study is to investigate U.S. women's self-reported frequency of cervical cancer screening, acceptance of an extended screening interval (once every 3-5 years), and preferred screening options.


Data from a 2012 web-based survey of U.S. women aged ≥18 years who had not undergone a hysterectomy or been diagnosed with cervical cancer (N=1,380) were analyzed in 2014. Logistic regression models of extended screening interval use, acceptance, and preference were developed.


Annual Pap testing was the most widely used (48.5%), accepted (61.0%), and preferred (51.1%) screening option. More than one third of respondents (34.4%) indicated that an extended screening interval would be acceptable, but only 6.3% reported that they were currently screened on an extended interval. Women who preferred an extended screening interval (32.9% of those willing to accept regular screening) were more likely to report no primary care visits during the last 12 months (AOR=2.05, p<0.003), no history of abnormal Pap test results (AOR=1.71, p=0.013), and that their last Pap test was performed by an internist/family practitioner rather than an obstetrician-gynecologist (AOR=2.03, p<0.001).


U.S. women's acceptance of and preference for an extended cervical cancer screening interval appears to be more widespread than utilization. Strategies to educate women about the reasoning behind recommendations for less-than-annual testing and to foster informed preferences should be devised and evaluated.

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