Method: A 27 question web-based questionnaire was developed and administered to a panel of Norwegian women aged 25- 69. Respondents were randomized into 3 groups based on when in the screening process information regarding overtreatment and the potential impact of surgical treatment on future pregnancy was first introduced: 1) when a Pap test is first suggested, 2) when a second test is recommended following the detection of abnormal cells, and 3) when surgical treatment is recommended. A fourth group served as a control group and was not provided information about overtreatment or side effects during all three points. This project is part of a larger international comparative study.
Results: 1,060 women responded to the survey. Additional information about overtreatment and side effects made no significant difference on women’s stated intentions at the first two time points; however it appears to create uncertainty when surgery becomes an option, χ 2(DF=6, N=1060, p=.014). Of the women surveyed, 945 (89.2%) believed that cervical cancer is among the three most common types of cancer among Norwegians. This overestimation is reflected in estimations of incidence, where 302 women (28.5%) correctly identified cervical cancer incidence rates in Norway at approximately 300 cases per year, while 71 (6.7%) underestimated the incidence rate, and 422 (39.8%) placed incidence rates at over 1000 cases a year. Over 80% of women state a preference for receiving information about all potential side effects.
Conclusions: Norwegian women overestimate the risk of cervical cancer. Their intention to undergo Pap tests is largely unaffected by the presence of additional information; however, this information may result in greater uncertainty when surgical intervention is suggested.