Compliance Behavior in Women With Abnormal Pap Smears: Developing and Testing a Decision Model

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This study investigated the reasons why women choose whether or not to seek treatment after being notified about an abnormal Pap smear in a women's clinic in Seattle. A hierarchic weighted utility model was developed from in-depth open-ended interviews with women who had an abnormal Pap smear and was used to identify beliefs and values related to the decision to seek treatment, i.e., a repeat Pap smear, for an abnormal Pap smear. Interviews with 18 women who had an abnormal Pap smear produced 12 issues pertinent to the behavior in question. These issues were grouped to form the hierarchy, and the decision model was then administered to 44 additional women. The model accurately classified the compliance behavior of 68% of study subjects. Moreover, the model differentiated persons who sought treatment for an abnormal Pap smear along several important dimensions: 1) doctor's opinion; 2) the accuracy or seriousness of the Pap smear result; 3) the importance of early detection; 4) familiarity with the treatment procedure; 5) time hassles (i.e., difficulties) involved in getting further treatment; 6) femininity concerns; 7) fear of cancer; and 8) perceived risk of cancer. These dimensions suggest specific content areas that may be used to develop low-cost compliance intervention strategies for use in clinical settings.

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