Pap Smear Knowledge Among Young Women Following the Introduction of the HPV Vaccine

Sara K. Head, Richard A. Crosby, Gregory R. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Study Objective: Investigate sexually active young women's knowledge of the term Pap smear since development of the HPV vaccine. Design: Cross-sectional study conducted January-May 2007. Setting: University health services clinic at a university in southern United States. Participants: Sexually active women, age 18-24, presenting for a Pap smear or STD testing (N = 145). Main Outcome Measures: Pap smear knowledge was assessed by participants' written definition of the term Pap smear and by multiple choice responses indicating Pap smear as a test for cervical cancer/ HPV and not a pelvic exam, STD test, or pregnancy test. Results: 9.7% provided accurate definitions; 12.4% checked appropriate Pap smear synonyms. 68.5% incorrectly responded that Pap smear was the same as "pelvic exam"; 42.5% indicated "STD test"; 11.7% indicated "pregnancy test." Indicators of HPV risk (age of sexual debut, previous abnormal Pap smear, previous STD diagnosis) were not associated with knowledge. Never using condoms, increasing age, and lower depression scores predicted accurate Pap smear definition rating (R2 = 0.08). Never using condoms, Caucasian race, and decreased lifetime number of sex partners predicted accurate identification of Pap smear synonyms (R2 = 0.15). Results: Few participants understood the meaning of the term Pap smear; there does not appear to be improvement in women's knowledge after development of the HPV vaccine. Poor Pap smear knowledge may affect young women's understanding of their overall sexual health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-256
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Adolescents
  • Cervical cancer
  • HPV
  • Pap smear
  • Vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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