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Information given to women invited for cervical screening: results of two postal surveys seven years apart
  1. H. V. Duggal,
  2. B. Olowokure,
  3. M. Caswell and
  4. S. A. Wardle
  1. Department of Public Health and Health Strategy, South Staffordshire Health Authority, Stafford, United Kingdom
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Dr B. Olowokure, Health Protection Agency, Regional Epidemiology Unit West Midlands, 2nd Floor Lincoln House, Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham B9 5SS, UK. Email: babatunde.olowokure{at}


In South Staffordshire, England, we compared women's views on information provided to them at different stages of the cervical screening program in 1994 with that provided in 2001. An age-stratified random sample of women aged 20–64 years who had a cervical smear taken between January and March 1994 (3856) or between January and March 2001 (4057) were sent postal questionnaires in June 1994 and July 2001, respectively. Response rates in 1994 (3124/3856, 81%) and 2001 (3288/4057, 81%) were similar. Compared to 1994, the proportion of women who thought the invitation letter was clear to read in 2001 increased (70% vs 98%, P < 0.0001); however, letters were thought to be less reassuring in 2001 compared to 1994 (P < 0.0001). In both study periods, 66% of women reported that the procedure was explained to them before the smear was taken. A greater proportion of women received their results by letter in 2001 compared to 1994 (57% vs 41%, P < 0.0001); however, 49% of women waited >4 weeks to receive their results in 2001 compared to 26% in 1994 (P < 0.0001). Bivariate analysis suggests that responses were age related, with older women (≥45 years) experiencing poorer information provision. The issues highlighted by this study deserve further investigation in other areas.

  • cervical screening
  • guidelines
  • information
  • Staffordshire
  • test results

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