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BMJ. 1997 May 10;314(7091):1388-91.

Women's understanding of abnormal cervical smear test results: a qualitative interview study.

Author information

1
Cancer Epidemiology Centre, Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria, Australia.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To describe how women interpret their experiences of diagnosis and treatment of a cervical abnormality and how healthcare services for such women can be improved.

DESIGN:

Qualitative study using detailed individual interviews.

SETTING:

Australian gynaecology clinics.

SUBJECTS:

29 Women who had a cervical cytological abnormality and who attended a gynaecologist.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Women's views on their diagnosis and their information needs.

RESULTS:

Most women wanted to participate in decisions about their care but found it difficult to get the information they required from doctors because they were confused by what their doctors told them and felt unable to ask questions in the consultation. Medical terms such as wart virus and precancer were difficult to understand. Not being able to see their cervix also made it hard for women to understand what their abnormality meant and what treatment entailed. Most women tried to make sense of their abnormality in the context of their everyday lives. For some women their gynaecological care was not consistent with the way they understood their abnormality.

CONCLUSIONS:

The inherent power structure of medical practice combined with time pressures often make it difficult for doctors to give the detailed information and reassurance patients need when a diagnosis is distressing or when investigation and treatment are strange and upsetting.

PMID:
9161314
PMCID:
PMC2126646
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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