182329 Young Women's Understanding of the Term Pap Smear: A Replication Study

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sara Head, MPH , Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Richard A. Crosby, PhD , College of Public Health, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, Afghanistan
Gregory Moore, MD, MPH , University Health Services, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Objectives: To investigate sexually active young women's understanding of the term Pap smear.

Methodology: Cross-sectional study conducted January-May 2007 at a university health clinic in the southern United States among sexually active women, age 18-24, attending the clinic for their annual exam / Pap smear or sexually transmitted disease testing (N=145). Accuracy of understanding was assessed by rating participants' written definition of the term Pap smear and by multiple choice response indicating Pap smear as a test for cervical cancer / HPV and not synonymous with pelvic exam, STD test, pregnancy test, or check-up.

Results: 14.5% accurately defined the term Pap smear. 68.5% mistakenly believed that Pap smear was the same as pelvic exam. Of women with abnormal pap smear and/or STD history, 33.3% incorrectly responded that ‘pelvic exam' and/or ‘test for STD' were synonymous with the term Pap smear. In multiple linear regression, older age was the only variable that predicted a higher Pap smear definition rating and explained 6.7% of variability in Pap smear definition rating. Older age, increased condom use, and Caucasian race predicted a higher number of correctly checked Pap smear synonyms and explained 17.0% of the variability in number of correct synonyms checked.

Conclusions: Similar to earlier studies among adolescent women, few participants understood the meaning of the term Pap smear. Poor understanding of gynecologic terms may affect young women's ability to request sexual healthcare appropriate to their needs or risks. Education to improve women's understanding of essential gynecologic terms may enhance women's health.

Learning Objectives:
To investigate sexually active young women’s understanding of the term Pap smear.

Keywords: Sexual Risk Behavior, Reproductive Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I supervised this research undertaken by this student first author.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.