Personal influencing factors associated with pap smear testing and cervical cancer

Kelly Ackerson, Joanne Pohl, Lisa Kane Low
Policy, Politics & Nursing Practice 2008, 9 (1): 50-60
Pap smear is a screening test that detects abnormal cells before they advance to cancer. Unfortunately, not all women obtain routine screening. The method used was a qualitative study exploring personal influences regarding Pap smears. Face-to-face interviews with 7 low-income African American women who do and do not obtain Pap smears (between 21 and 37 years of age) were conducted at a health department about their social influence, previous health care experience, and cognitive appraisal regarding Pap smears and cervical cancer. Women were found to be socially influenced by their family and their physician. Previous health care experience with the Pap and pelvic was perceived as negative. Cognitively, Pap smears were believed to test for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, and the women also felt that if one took good care of oneself it reduced the risk for cervical cancer. It was concluded that exploring beliefs associated with Pap smears and perceptions of vulnerability to cervical cancer and giving correct information and counseling may increase Pap smear screening in women.

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