Can Precolposcopy Education Increase Knowledge and Decrease Anxiety?

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To investigate the impact of an educational intervention on knowledge and anxiety level of women scheduled for colposcopy after an abnormal Papanicolaou (Pap) test.


Experimental, randomized controlled study.


An inner-city medical school.


The final sample consisted of 58 women in the intervention group and 55 women in the control group. Exclusion criteria included any previous colposcopy.


The women in the intervention group received in the mail, approximately 1 week before their appointment, a one-page handout about colposcopy. The control group received no mailed handout. After arriving for the visit, women were asked to participate in the study and then were interviewed.

Main Outcome Measures:

Knowledge of reason for visit and knowledge of colposcopy as measured by content analysis of interview; and anxiety as measured by the Spielberger State/Trait Anxiety Inventory.


Women in the intervention group demonstrated significantly more knowledge about the reason for their visit and about colposcopy than did the other women. No significant difference in mean anxiety score was found between the groups.


The intervention increased knowledge about colposcopy for this population. Because patient education is an essential nursing function, these results are encouraging. This intervention can be replicated by nurses in other settings. Further research is necessary to understand how nurses can best help women alleviate anxiety before colposcopy.

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