Gynecologists and human papillomavirus DNA testing: exploring knowledge, attitudes, and practice in Italy
The aim of this survey was to examine the knowledge, attitudes, and behavior of gynecologists in terms of human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing as a primary screening tool for cervical cancer. A national cross-sectional web survey was carried out through multistage sampling using an overall sample of 1000 gynecologists. Gynecologists were asked to fill in a self-administered questionnaire exploring their knowledge, attitudes, and practice toward cervical cancer screening and HPV-DNA testing. A total of 582 gynecologists completed the web questionnaire. Of these, 24.5% were uncertain on the higher sensitivity of HPV-DNA compared with the Pap test, whereas 19% were uncertain on the role of the HPV-DNA test as a primary test in women younger than 30 years old and only 44.9% knew that a negative HPV-DNA test allows for an extension of the test interval to 5 years. Most gynecologists showed a definite positive attitude on the role of screening for cervical cancer prevention and were prepared to accept new technologies. The HPV-DNA test was considered highly effective by 86.9%, whereas 94% recommend/perform HPV-DNA tests in women older than 30 years of age; 25.5% performed HPV-DNA as a primary test, followed by a Pap test in those cases that were positive. Only 56.3% recommended/performed HPV-DNA tests 1 year after a positive HPV-DNA test, followed by a negative Pap test, whereas 42.9% recommended colposcopy. Although the use of the HPV-DNA test is very widespread among Italian gynecologists performing cervical cancer screening, there is lack of standardization of practices according to current guidelines.