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Miller SM , Siejak KK , Schroeder CM , Lerman C , Hernandez E , Helm CW
Enhancing adherence following abnormal pap smears among low- income minority women: A preventive telephone counseling strategy
Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 1997 May 21;89(10) :703-708
PMID: ISI:A1997XA21900010   
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Background: Although the incidence of precancerous conditions of the cervix has recently been increasing, prompt initial and long-term follow-up care can effectively reduce unnecessary morbidity and mortality. For example, the 4-year survival rates among those individuals at greatest risk for cervical cancer (i.e., minority women of low socioeconomic status) approach 95% with early detection. Women who present with advanced disease have a much poorer outlook (0%-39% survival). Yet, high-risk individuals are least likely to adhere to recommended diagnostic regimens. Purpose: We tested the effectiveness of a brief telephone counseling intervention directed to low-income, inner-city women after they had received an abnormal Pap smear result. The women were counseled on the importance of having an initial and 6-month repeat follow-up diagnostic procedure (i.e., colposcopic examination of the cervix). Methods: A randomized trial design was used to compare the effects on these women of telephone counseling with (n = 192) or without (n = 203) a booster counseling telephone call prior to the appointment for a repeat colposcopy 6 months later, with a telephone appointment confirmation/reminder call (n = 216) and with standard care (i.e., no telephone contact) (n = 217). The telephone counseling protocol probed for and addressed three psychologic barriers to adherence (i.e., attendance at appointment for colposcopy examination): 1) encoding/expectancy (e.g., did the patient understand her risk of developing cervical cancer?); 2) affective/emotional (e.g., was the woman worried about the condition and its consequences?); and 3) self-regulatory/practical (e.g., was the woman likely to forget medical appointments?). Logistic regression was used to analyze the effects of the intervention group and the type of psychologic barriers elicited on colposcopy adherence. Results: The results of logistic regression analysis (using those who received an appointment confirmation/reminder telephone call as the comparison group) revealed that telephone counseling produced significantly higher adherence rates to the initial colposcopy visit compared with telephone confirmation (300 [76%] of 395 women versus 147 [68%] of 216; odds ratio [OR] = 1.50; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.04-2.17). Additionally, standard care resulted in significantly lower adherence rates than did telephone confirmation (109 [50%] of 217 women versus 147 [68%] of 216; OR = 0.47; 95% CI = 0.32-0.73). Regarding attendance at the 6-month repeat colposcopy appointments, the 80 patients who had received telephone counseling prior to the initial visit (and were recommended for follow-up colposcopy) were significantly more likely to adhere than were the 47 patients who had received telephone confirmation (49 [61%] of 80 women versus 17 [36.2%] of 47; OR = 2.70; 95% CI = 1.15- 6.51). The 6-month adherence rates for patients in the telephone confirmation group and the standard care group (n = 30) were low and did not differ significantly (17 [36.2%] of 47 women versus nine [30.0%] of 30; OR = 1.08; 95% CI = 0.40- 2.89). Forgetting medical appointments (OR = 0.31; 95% CI = 0.19-0.51) and having scheduling conflicts (OR = 0.45; 95% CI = 0.28-0.72) were also associated with lower rates of adherence. Conclusion: The use of telephone counseling appears to be an effective strategy for enhancing initial and long-term adherence to a follow-up cervical diagnostic procedure in a traditionally underserved population. Patients who respond to a positive Pap test result with a particular profile of psychologic barriers may require more intensive and targeted counseling interventions.
Times Cited: 24 English Article XA219 J NAT CANCER INST