STUDY OBJECTIVE--To assess the emotional responses of women attending a colposcopy clinic for investigation of an abnormal cervical smear, and to elicit the women's views on the screening service and colposcopy clinic. DESIGN--Over 12 months all new attenders at a colposcopy clinic were invited to join the study. They were assessed psychiatrically four weeks before their first clinic appointment, and four weeks and 32 weeks after their first clinic appointment. SETTING--Colposcopy clinic, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. PATIENTS--Of 114 women attending the colposcopy clinic for investigation of an abnormal cervical smear, 102 agreed to enter the study. MEASUREMENTS--Psychiatric symptoms were assessed with a standardised psychiatric interview, the present state examination; and with four self rated mood scales:--the general health questionnaire, the Beck depression inventory, the Leeds depression scale, and the Leeds anxiety scale. MAIN RESULTS--On all these measures, in the whole patient group, psychiatric morbidity was found to be transient and relatively minor. Thus ratings on the present state examination were not significantly higher than the rate found in a community sample of 520 women in Oxford, while on the four self rated mood scales, mean total scores were lower than the cut off value used to distinguished cases. Patient satisfaction with the colposcopy services was generally high but there was some dissatisfaction with delays. CONCLUSIONS--After an abnormal cervical smear, further investigation by colposcopy is generally associated with low levels of anxiety and depression.
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