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Adolescents had poor knowledge about Papanicolaou (cervical) smear screening and identified many barriers to being screened

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QUESTION: How do adolescent girls understand and perceive Papanicolaou (Pap or cervical) smear screening and barriers to compliance?


Qualitative study using focus groups and indepth, semistructured interviews.


2 clinics in a children's hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


15 adolescents (mean age 18.7 y, 8 African-Americans, 5 with children, 11 in school, 7 with a history of sexually transmitted diseases) were approached and all had individual interviews. Adolescents who had been sexually active and who had normal and abnormal cervical smears were selected. Only a proportion of the latter group returned for follow up.


The interview guide was developed from data in 3 focus groups with 12 adolescents. The content was derived from 4 models (health belief model, social cognitive theory, theory of planned behaviour, …

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  • Sources of funding: Fleet National Bank; The Trustees of The Deborah Munroe Noonan Memorial Fund; US Department of Health and Human Resources.

  • For correspondence: Dr J A Kahn, Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA. Fax +1 513 636 8844.