Kola-Palmer, Susanna, Walsh, Jane C. and Rogers, Melanie (2016) Patients’ perceptions of colposcopy pain. European Journal of Cancer Care, 25 (1). pp. 49-56. ISSN 0961-5423

This study aimed to examine the sensory descriptors used by women undergoing their first ever colposcopy examination as part of cervical cancer screening. Immediately following colposcopy, women were asked to provide detailed information about the sensory, affective, evaluative and intensity properties of the colposcopy examination using a validated, standardised questionnaire. Overall, 160 colposcopy patients with different management options were assessed (53 women underwent diagnostic colposcopy only, 76 had colposcopy plus punch biopsy, 31 women had colposcopy plus see-and-treat LLETZ treatment). The results demonstrated that women report greater pain intensity with more intensive management options, such that women who have punch biopsy or LLETZ treatment report significantly more pain than women who have diagnostic colposcopy. In addition, with increasing intensity of treatment, the number of qualitative sensory and pain descriptors increase. This information can usefully be incorporated into colposcopy information leaflets, to ensure the sensory and affective experience of colposcopy is fully explained to women prior to attending. Expanding the preparatory information that women receive may serve to reduce anxiety, pain and distress associated with colposcopy.

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