Human papilloma virus testing knowledge and attitudes among women attending colposcopy clinic with ASCUS/LGSIL pap smears

T Le, W Hicks, C Menard, D Boyd, T Hewson, L Hopkins, M Fung Kee Fung
Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada: JOGC 2004, 26 (9): 788-92

OBJECTIVE: To study women's knowledge regarding the role of human papilloma virus (HPV) in cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and their attitudes toward the integration of HPV testing as part of routine follow-up of atypical squamous cell of uncertain significance/low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (ASCUS/LGSIL) abnormalities.

METHODS: Over a 12-month period, all women attending the University of Ottawa colposcopy clinic for evaluation and follow-up of ASCUS/LGSIL Pap smears were recruited. Demographic data included age, nature of the Pap smear abnormality, gravidity, parity, occupation and education level, smoking history, previous history of abnormal smears, colposcopic examination and treatment, and current method of contraception. The women were asked to rate their level of concern over their Pap smear abnormality, from 0 (not concerned) to 10 (very concerned). Women's knowledge regarding the role of HPV in cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and the rationale behind the use of HPV testing was assessed by the clinic nurse as being minimal, moderate, or good, as defined by pre-specified criteria. Upon explanation by the nurses of the results of the recent ALTS (ASCUS/LGSIL Triage Study) trial, the women were asked to state whether they preferred to continue with regular colposcopic surveillance every 6 months, or to use the results of the HPV test, if negative, to reduce the number of colposcopy examinations to one annually. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression analysis were used to identify significant demographic factors associated with the women's preference for incorporation of HPV testing in their follow-up. All P values less than.10 were considered to be statistically significant, due to the exploratory nature of the study.

RESULTS: Of the 100 women who participated in the study, 42% presented with ASCUS. The mean age (+/- SD) of the women was 33.63 +/- 11.25 years (range, 18-75 years); 66% were office workers with at least a community college degree, 86% reported previous abnormal Pap smears, and 67% had previously been seen for colposcopy. Fifty-eight percent of the women rated their concern level as being 6 or more, while 15% ranked their concerns as maximal at 10. In terms of knowledge about HPV, 75% of the women had no or very minimal knowledge of the role of HPV in cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. With regard to HPV testing, 84% of the study group had either never heard of the test or had only a minimal knowledge of HPV testing. After being informed of the ALTS results, 64% of the women chose to use HPV testing to help in triaging the needs for frequent colposcopy. Logistic regression modelling showed that a college level education (odds ratio [OR], 2.27; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.95-;5.45; P =.06) and history of previous treatment for abnormal Pap smears (OR, 3.31; CI, 0.88- 12.46; P =.07) were closely associated with the adoption of HPV testing in clinical management.

CONCLUSION: There exists a significant lack of knowledge about HPV and its role in the pathogenesis of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. Women who have received previous treatments for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and those with college-level educations were more likely to adopt this new technology as part of their care.

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