Preference for Human Papillomavirus Self-Collection and Papanicolaou: Survey of Underscreened Women in North Carolina

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ObjectivesSelf-collection of samples for human papillomavirus (HPV) testing (self-collection) has the potential to increase cervical cancer screening among underscreened women. We assessed attitudes toward at-home HPV self-collection compared with clinic-based Pap testing in this higher-risk population.Materials and MethodsParticipants were low-income women in North Carolina overdue for cervical cancer screening. Women self-collected samples at home, returned samples by mail for HPV testing, and completed phone questionnaires about at-home HPV self-collection. Participants were referred to clinic-based Pap testing and invited to complete a second questionnaire about Pap testing. A cross-sectional questionnaire compared attitudes, experiences, and preferences for self-collection versus Pap testing and assessed predictors of preference for HPV self-collection.ResultsHalf (51%) of 221 women reported a preference for HPV self-collection, 19% preferred Pap testing, and 27% reported no preference. More women reported difficulty finding time to do the Pap test (31%) than the self-test (13%, p = .003) and being afraid of the self-test results (50%) than the Pap test results (36%, p = .02). There were relatively fewer reports of physical discomfort and pain from self-collection than Pap testing (discomfort: 18% self; 48% Pap; pain: 8% self; 30% Pap, p = .001). No differences were found in positive versus negative thoughts about the tests, trust in the tests' safety and accuracy, or willingness to do tests again.ConclusionsOverall positive attitudes toward HPV self-collection compared with Pap testing among underscreened women suggest that self-collection is a promising option to increase cervical cancer screening in this high-risk population.

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