Communicating Cervical Cancer Screening Results in Light of New Guidelines: Clinical Practices at Federally Qualified Health Centers

Katharine J. Head, Nicole L. Johnson, Susanna Foxworthy Scott, Gregory D. Zimet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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New guidelines for cervical cancer screening (CCS) incorporate both HPV and Pap tests, and there is a need to understand communication of these cotesting results to patients, especially in at-risk populations disproportionally affected by cervical cancer. This study used computer-assisted telephone interviews in 2017 at 51 federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) in Indiana to evaluate the characteristics of clinical communication CCS results to women. Results revealed that clinical communication practices varied on channel, timing, and content. Almost half of the clinics (n = 23, 45%) communicate results to patients by phone. Most clinics (n = 47, 92%) notify patients of results in two weeks or less. For cotesting, 70% (n = 36) always communicate Pap/HPV results at the same time. The majority of clinics (n = 42, 82%) explain the type of abnormal Pap test, while only 43% (n = 22) discuss the cervical cancer risk as indicated by the HPV test result. Even though 98% (n = 48) of participants rated their communication strategy as effective, qualitatively participants acknowledged difficulties in communicating cotesting results with their often transient and low health literate patients populations. These results indicate considerable variation and potential deficits in clinical communication of cotesting results in FQHCs, but several promising communication strategies were identified that may inform improved screening communication for other clinics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHealth Communication
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication

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