Use or nonuse of the Papanicolaou test in a selected group of women on the Ball State University campus
The purpose of the study was to learn more about the use or non use of the Papanicolaou Test (referred to hereafter as the Pap test) among a selected population of women on the Ball State University Campus.The author was concerned with the fact that, according to projections of the American Cancer Society, 12,000 women die each year of uterine cancer. Many of these deaths could have been avoided if women would have availed themselves yearly of a simple testing device known as the Pap test.After considerable research and discussions with Ball State University women of all ages, it was obvious that many women do not take advantage of this cancer detection device. It became this author's desire to discover why the Pap test is overlooked by so many women. Research pointed out several reasons for this phenomenon, namely: 1) length of time required for the test, 2) inability to afford the Pap test, 3) fear of the results and 4) lack of prior experience with the Pap test combined with a feeling of wellness. latter reason was summarized in the general statement: "Have never had the Pap test and I am fine, so why bother?".Also appearing in this research was the subtle hint that perhaps the medical profession itself was partly to blame for the nonuse of the test. Overworked physicians and understaffed laboratories were cited as possible reasons why doctors were not encouraging their patients to avail themselves of the Pap test.Previous studies on this subject have been conducted in lower socioeconomic populations in San Diego, California, and Baltimore, Maryland. The above named reasons for not having the yearly Pap test were the conclusions of these studies also. The author felt that a study of women representing a different segment of society possibly would be of help in this area of cancer research and control.A questionnaire was developed and distributed to the female residents in all the Ball State University married students' housing units. This selected group of women represented a fairly homogeneous population with an assumed similar type of background and education.A total of 670 questionnaires were distributed and 535 were completed and returned for an 80 per cent rate of response.Following are some of the significant results of the survey:83 per cent of the women had a complete physical examination within the last year.96 percent of the women had a Pap test within the last year.74 per cent of the women indicated their desire for a "clean bill of health" which prompted yearly Pap tests.89.9 per cent stated they were not afraid to learn the results of the Pap test.41 per cent of the women revealed that their first knowledge of the Pap test came through the news media.92 per cent of the women felt their husbands were more aware of the benefits of the Pap test than they themselves. The results of this study indicated that these women, as a group, were concerned about their health and were eager to seek out proper medical care in order to safeguard themselves.