Our new systematic review examines adverse psychological outcomes following colposcopy

Each year approximately 15,000 women who attend cervical screening, through CervicalCheck, Ireland’s national cervical cancer screening programme, receive abnormal cytology test results and require follow-up. A hospital-based colposcopy examination is the main follow-up option for women.

The psychological impact of undergoing colposcopy is well recognised - raised anxiety levels have been reported both prior to, and during, the examination. Recent evidence suggests that colposcopy and related procedures (e.g. biopsies or treatment) may be associated with negative psychological effects afterwards (e.g. anxiety, or worries about cervical cancer) for some women. However, little is known about which types of adverse psychological outcomes are most common, what are the ‘predictors’ of adverse psychological outcomes post-colposcopy, or what happens these outcomes over time.

CERVIVA researchers based at the Registry conducted a systematic review, the first of its kind, to investigate these issues. The review found that colposcopy can lead to adverse psychological outcomes, particularly anxiety. The review also highlighted that there is a lack of knowledge about which women are at greater risk of experiencing these outcomes. Such information is important to inform the development of appropriate interventions to help alleviate these negative psychological outcomes following colposcopy.

There was wide variation in the methods and instruments used to assess the psychological outcomes among the studies included in the review. This indicates there is a need for consensus on a standardised assessment tool to quantify adverse psychological outcomes that are specific to colposcopy.

The review is published in BJOG, for more information please click on this link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1471-0528.13462/abstract