To learn more about young women’s understanding of the term Pap smear.
UMass Memorial Adolescent Clinic.
Female patients 14 years or older (and their mothers when available) who visited the clinic between June 10 and August 9, 2002.
Main Outcome Measures
Accuracy of participants’ written definition for the term Pap smear and knowledge that a “Pap smear” is a test for cervical cancer and not synonymous with a pelvic examination, sexually transmitted disease test, pregnancy test, or checkup.
Three (2.7%) of the 111 adolescent participants provided an accurate definition of the term Pap smear. Sixty-eight percent mistakenly believed that a Pap smear was the same as a pelvic examination. Age, history of sexual intercourse, and having had a Pap smear correlated with a better Pap smear definition rating.
Remarkably few patients who participated in this study understood the meaning of the term Pap smear. Confusion about gynecologic terms may hinder efforts to enhance compliance with sexually transmitted disease and cervical cancer screening. Educational initiatives are needed to improve young people’s comprehension and to prevent misun derstandings about gynecologic care and miscommunication between patients and their health care pro viders.