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Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics

, Volume 293, Issue 2, pp 391–398 | Cite as

Cervical screening program and the psychological impact of an abnormal Pap smear: a self-assessment questionnaire study of 590 patients

  • Fabinshy Thangarajah
  • Thomas Einzmann
  • Florian Bergauer
  • Jan Patzke
  • Silke Schmidt-Petruschkat
  • Monika Theune
  • Katja Engel
  • Julian Puppe
  • Lisa Richters
  • Peter Mallmann
  • Verena Kirn
General Gynecology

Abstract

Purpose

Invasive cervical cancer is today the fourth most common cancer of women in western civilization. Screening programs have led to a continuously decrease. Nevertheless, both screening and a positive test result are known to be associated with a negative psychological impact. Screening programs in European countries differ and thus psychological impact might as well. The aim of this study was to evaluate the psychological impact of women with an abnormal Pap smear in a German cohort.

Methods

Between July 2013 and May 2014, a self-assessment questionnaire was distributed to 595 patients that were referred to a special clinic for cervical dysplasia for further evaluation of an abnormal Pap smear. Patients were recruited in five different centers.

Results

Most patients (45.9 %) were informed about the test result via phone call by their doctor. 68.8 % of the patients felt anxious and 26.3 % even felt panic. After having talked to their physician, 51.4 % of our cohort still felt worried and only 24.4 % felt reassured. Concerning disease management, 48.4 % underwent a control Pap smear in 6 months. The preferred information source was the physician (63.9 %). Compared to the results in other European countries, our study cohort showed differences concerning age distribution, patients living in a partnership, number of children and especially disease management.

Conclusion

Cancer screening itself and abnormal test results have an impact on patient’s feelings. To reduce the psychological impact, patients need to be better informed about the risks and benefits of cancer screening programs and in case of cervical cancer screening about the meaning of an abnormal test result. Our results underline the importance of a trustful physician–patient relationship in that matter.

Keywords

Pap smear Psychological impact Cervical cancer screening 

Notes

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

Supplementary material

404_2015_3821_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.6 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 1646 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fabinshy Thangarajah
    • 1
  • Thomas Einzmann
    • 1
  • Florian Bergauer
    • 2
  • Jan Patzke
    • 3
  • Silke Schmidt-Petruschkat
    • 3
  • Monika Theune
    • 4
  • Katja Engel
    • 3
  • Julian Puppe
    • 1
  • Lisa Richters
    • 1
  • Peter Mallmann
    • 1
  • Verena Kirn
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyUniversity of CologneCologneGermany
  2. 2.Amedes MVZ for Gynecology and Pathology Munich GmbHMunichGermany
  3. 3.MVZ Institute for Clinical Genetics, Pathology and Cytology Nordrhein GmbH in the Protestant Hospital of OberhausenOberhausenGermany
  4. 4.Amedes MVZ Wagnerstibbe for Gynecology, Reproductive Medicine, Cytology, Pathology and Internal MedicineBad MuensterGermany

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