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Am J Prev Med. 2015 Dec;49(6):e99-107. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2015.04.025. Epub 2015 Jul 2.

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

Author information

Soltera Center for Cancer Prevention and Control, Tucson, Arizona.
Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC, Atlanta, Georgia. Electronic address:
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco, California.



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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