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Adverse psychological outcomes following colposcopy and related procedures: a systematic review

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Linda Sharp



BackgroundAlthough colposcopy is the leading follow-up option for women with abnormal cervical cytology, little is known about its psychological consequences.ObjectivesWe performed a systematic review to examine: (1) what, if any, are the adverse psychological outcomes following colposcopy and related procedures; (2) what are the predictors of adverse psychological outcomes post-colposcopy; and (3) what happens to these outcomes over time.Search strategyFive electronic databases (PubMed, PsychINFO, CINAHL, Web of Science, Scopus) were searched for studies published in English between January 1986 and February 2014.Selection criteriaEligible studies assessed psychological wellbeing at one or more time-points post-colposcopy.Data collection and analysisTwo reviewers independently screened titles and abstracts. Full texts of potentially eligible papers were reviewed. Data were abstracted from, and a quality appraisal performed of, eligible papers.Main resultsTwenty-three papers reporting 16 studies were eligible. Colposcopy and related procedures can lead to adverse psychological outcomes, particularly anxiety. Ten studies investigated predictors of adverse psychological outcomes; management type and treatment had no impact on this. Seven studies investigated temporal trends in psychological outcomes post-colposcopy; findings were mixed, especially in relation to anxiety and distress. Studies were methodologically heterogeneous.ConclusionsFollow-up investigations and procedures for abnormal cervical cytology can cause adverse psychological outcomes among women. However, little is known about the predictors of these outcomes or how long they persist. There is a need for a more standardised approach to the examination of the psychological impact of colposcopy, especially longer-term outcomes.Tweetable abstractFollow-up investigations for abnormal cervical cytology can cause adverse psychological outcome among women.Tweetable abstract Follow-up investigations for abnormal cervical cytology can cause adverse psychological outcome among women.

Publication metadata

Author(s): O'Connor M, Gallagher P, Waller J, Martin CM, O'Leary JJ, Sharp L, Irish Cervical Screening Research Consortium

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology

Year: 2016

Volume: 123

Issue: 1

Pages: 24-38

Print publication date: 01/01/2016

Online publication date: 22/06/2015

Acceptance date: 02/04/2015

ISSN (print): 1470-0328

ISSN (electronic): 1471-0528



DOI: 10.1111/1471-0528.13462