OBJECTIVES: To describe women's experiences of abnormal Pap smear result.
METHODS: Ten women were recruited from a women's health clinic. Qualitative interviews based on six open-ended questions were conducted, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed by content analysis.
RESULTS: The women believed that their abnormal Pap smear result was indicative of having cancer. This created anxiety in the women, which resulted in the need for emotional support and information. Testing positive with human papillomavirus (HPV) also meant consequences for the relatives as well as concerns about the sexually transmitted nature of the virus. Finally, the women had a need to be treated with respect by the healthcare professionals in order to reduce feelings of being abused.
CONCLUSIONS: In general, women have a low level of awareness of HPV and its relation to abnormal Pap smear results. Women who receive abnormal Pap smear results need oral information, based on the individual women's situation, and delivered at the time the women receive the test result. It is also essential that a good emotional contact be established between the women and the healthcare professionals.
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