Factors influencing women's decisions to seek Pap smear testing
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The Pap smear has become an effective and commonly adopted screening tool for cervical cell abnormalities, and for the presence of the Human Papillomavirus, which may lead to increased risk of cervical cancer. While effective, the Pap smear is often misunderstood, and a variety of factors impede women from regular screenings. In exploring this topic, the author conducts a survey of patients at a Planned Parenthood facility. Findings of this study indicate that major factors influencing a woman’s decision to undergo regular screenings include previous personal or familial exposure to reproductive or breast cancer; a familiarity with her mother’s Pap smear schedule; and a higher education level. The study found that the majority of women surveyed did not fully understand the medical purpose of a Pap smear, however.