Challenges in Cervical Cancer Prevention

A Survey of U.S. Obstetrician-Gynecologists


      Current cervical cancer prevention recommendations include human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, Pap and HPV co-testing, and Pap testing at 3- to 5-year intervals.


      To examine attitudes, practice patterns, and barriers related to HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening guidelines among U.S. obstetrician-gynecologists.


      In 2011–2012, a national sample of members of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists responded to a 15-item (some with multiple parts) questionnaire assessing sociodemographic characteristics, clinical practices, and perceived barriers to HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening. Multivariate logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with guideline adherence. Analyses were conducted in 2012.


      A total of 366 obstetrician-gynecologists participated. Ninety-two percent of respondents offered HPV vaccination to patients, but only 27% estimated that most eligible patients received vaccination. Parent and patient refusals were commonly cited barriers to HPV vaccination. Approximately half of respondents followed guidelines to begin cervical cancer screening at age 21 years, discontinue screening at age 70 years or after hysterectomy, and appropriately utilize Pap and HPV co-testing. Most physicians continued to recommend annual Paps (74% aged 21–29 years, 53% aged ≥30 years). Physicians felt that patients were uncomfortable with extended screening intervals and were concerned that patients would not come for annual exams without concurrent Paps. Solo practitioners were less likely to follow both vaccination and screening guidelines than those in group practices.


      This survey of obstetrician-gynecologists indicates persistent barriers to the adoption of HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening guidelines. Interventions to promote guideline adherence may help improve the quality of cervical cancer prevention.
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