Effects of Human Papillomavirus Awareness and Knowledge on Psychological State of Women Referred to Cervical Cancer Screening

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ObjectiveThe aim of the study was to assess the impact of human papillomavirus (HPV) awareness and knowledge on physiological state and quality of life of women referred to colposcopy and/or HPV testing.Materials and MethodsA cross-sectional study was carried out at University Hospital, Belgrade, Serbia. The women with abnormal Pap test results obtained at the primary care centers requiring colposcopy and/or HPV testing were included. Before gynecological examination, participants filled the questionnaire on demographic characteristics, gynecological history, questionnaire for the evaluation of HPV awareness and HPV knowledge level, a set of self-report questionnaires assessing the anxiety level, quality of life, and concern about the smear and colposcopy results and perceived risk of developing cervical cancer.ResultsOf 324 women, 196 (60.5%) were aware of HPV. They reported higher concern about test results (p < .001), perceived risk of developing cervical cancer (p < .001), and had significantly lower quality of life (p = .004) than women who did not hear anything about this virus. On contrary, better knowledge correlated with younger age (p < .001) and better quality of life (p < .0001) and was associated with lower anxiety, lower concern about smear test results, and lower perceived risk of developing cancer.ConclusionsHuman papillomavirus awareness and knowledge have different impact on psychological state and quality of life. Being aware of HPV is not enough for reducing the stress and anxiety and increasing the coverage of screening. Therefore, it is necessary to increase women's knowledge through more detailed information about HPV in different public health messages and education programs.

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