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O'Connor M.;Waller J.;Gallagher P.;Martin C.;O'Leary J.;D'Arcy T.;Prendiville W.;Flannelly G.;Sharp L.
Womens Health Issues
Understanding Women's Differing Experiences of Distress after Colposcopy: A Qualitative Interview Study
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© 2015 Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. Background: Women who have an abnormal cervical cytology test may be referred for a colposcopy. Accumulating evidence suggests some women may experience distress after colposcopy. This exploratory study examined women's differing experiences of post-colposcopy distress with the aim of identifying factors that are predictive of, or protective against, distress. Methods: We carried out semistructured, qualitative interviews with 23 women who had undergone colposcopies. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, coded, and analyzed thematically. The Framework Approach was used to summarize and organize the data and identify emerging higher order themes. Results: Two forms of post-colposcopy distress emerged: 1) short term and 2) long term. Short-term distress was experienced immediately after the colposcopy and in the days afterward, and was usually related to the physical experience of the colposcopy. Long-term distress typically persisted over time and was related to concerns about fertility, cervical cancer, and sexual intercourse. The drivers of short-term and long-term distress differed. Factors related to short-term distress were feeling unprepared for the procedure, having a negative experience of the procedure, and attending the clinic alone. Factors related to long-term distress were future intentions to have (more) children, having physical after-effects of the procedure that impacted on the woman's life, and being under on-going clinic surveillance. Absence of these factors (e.g., being accompanied to the clinic) was protective against short- and long-term distress. Conclusions: Colposcopy can lead to short- and long-term post-procedural distress for some women. We identified a range of factors, some potentially modifiable, that seem to influence the chances of experiencing distress. These results may inform the development of strategies or interventions aimed at preventing or minimizing distress after colposcopy and related procedures.
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