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Qualitative study of women's anxiety and information needs after a diagnosis of cervical dysplasia

[journal article]

Lee Mortensen, Gitte; Adeler, Anny Lisbeth

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Abstract Aim: Each year almost 15,000 Danish women are diagnosed with cervical dysplasia, a precursor to cervical cancer. The period of medical follow-up, or ‘watchful waiting’, to monitor for regression or progression of the lesion before deciding if treatment by conisation is necessary can be long. The aim of this study was to examine the experiences of women with different stages of cervical dysplasia and to examine whether their knowledge of human papillomavirus (HPV) as the cause of cervical dysplasia influenced their perception of their disease. Subject and methods: We used focus group and individual interviews with 12 women diagnosed with different stages of cervical dysplasia—women who had and had not been conised. Interview guides were prepared on the basis of a literature review that identified important issues and questions for the participants. Results: The participants considered cervical dysplasia to be a highly distressing condition and experienced monitoring as a worrying delay before regression of the lesions or treatment could be initiated. Women expressed a fear of cancer that was not proportional to the stage of their dysplasia, but was determined by their degree of knowledge about their condition. Unlike other sexually transmitted diseases, information about HPV did not result in stigmatisation as the perception of this disease was dominated by cancer. Conclusion: This study showed that it is extremely important to address women’s fears, their need for information and to ensure better communication with medical practitioners about cervical dysplasia immediately after diagnosis, irrespective of the disease stage.
Classification General Psychology; Medicine, Social Medicine
Free Keywords Cervical dysplasia; Human papillomavirus; Disease perception
Document language English
Publication Year 2010
Page/Pages p. 473-482
Journal Journal of Public Health, 18 (2010) 5
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)