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.
- Cervical cancer
- uncertainty management