Objectives Testing for human papillomavirus (HPV) infection has recently been introduced into cervical screening programmes. We investigated (1) barriers to accessing and absorbing information and (2) factors that influence information needs among women undergoing HPV tests.
Methods In-depth interviews were conducted with 27 women who had HPV tests performed in a colposcopy clinic as part of follow-up of low-grade abnormal cytology or post-treatment for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). Interviews were transcribed verbatim, coded and analysed using Framework Analysis, to identify main themes and sub-themes.
Results Among these women, barriers to accessing and absorbing HPV information were: being overwhelmed with information; context of the HPV test; colposcopy clinic experience(s); women's perceptions of medical professionals’ behaviours and attitudes, and information available on the Internet. Factors influencing women's HPV information needs were: concerns surrounding abnormal cytology or diagnosis of CIN; amount of information provided about HPV; awareness HPV is sexually transmitted; previous negative health care experience(s); and the HPV test in relation to other life events. The timing of delivery of HPV information was key to women absorbing or remembering the information given; it was important that information was given in stages rather than altogether.
Conclusions In women undergoing HPV testing during follow-up, the amount and timing of delivery of HPV information requires careful consideration. Significant barriers exist to accessing and absorbing HPV information which, unless addressed, could have serious implications in terms of women's comprehension of HPV tests. Given the expanding use of HPV testing within cervical screening, further research on HPV-related information issues is needed.
- cervical screening
- human papillomavirus
- qualitative research
- cervical neoplasms
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