Using communication to manage uncertainty about cervical cancer screening guideline adherence among Appalachian women

Elisia L. Cohen*, Allison M. Scott, Rachael Record, Sara Shaunfield, M. Grace Jones, Tom Collins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Changes to the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations for cervical cancer preventive services have led to patient confusion, especially in medically underserved populations. We investigated how patient uncertainty concerning cervical cancer screening guidelines is appraised and managed through communication with healthcare providers by conducting in-depth, face-to-face interviews with 24 adult women between the ages of 24 and 65 (m = 41, SD = 14) living in Appalachia Kentucky. In general, participants expressed a high degree of uncertainty about the updated cervical cancer screening guidelines and appraised this uncertainty as both a danger and an opportunity. Communication with healthcare providers served both to exacerbate and to mitigate patient uncertainty. The study identifies how healthcare providers may use the change in USPSTF guidelines as a “teachable moment” to productively counsel patients on the importance of timely screening, the typical progression of certain types of high-risk HPV (human papillomavirus) infection to cervical cancer, and the importance of follow-up care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-39
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Applied Communication Research
Volume44
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016

Keywords

  • Cervical cancer
  • guidelines
  • uncertainty management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics

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