A randomized controlled trial was carried out in which the acceptability of screening for cervical carcinoma in situ by a postal 'do-it-yourself' method--the cytopipette--was compared with that of an invitation to attend a clinic or see a general practitioner for the conventional cervical scrape examination. In parallel with this, a sociological study of women who had been invited by both methods was undertaken in which information was obtained from responders and non-responders on attitudes to health care. The results show that, while the pipette was used by a greater proportion of women overall than the scrape examination, its acceptance by women most at risk of the disease is still not high. It is concluded that, taking into account the relative merits of the two methods as screening tests, as well as their acceptability and cost, the postal pipette may be useful in some circumstances, such as areas where clinical resources are limited, and as a second approach to women who have not taken up the offer of a scrape examination.
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