Are Health Care Professionals Prepared to Implement Human Papillomavirus Testing? A Review of Psychosocial Determinants of Human Papillomavirus Test Acceptability in Primary Cervical Cancer Screening

Ovidiu Tatar, Kristina Wade, Emily McBride, Erika Thompson, Katharine J. Head, Samara Perez, Gilla K. Shapiro, Jo Waller, Gregory Zimet, Zeev Rosberger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Background: Guidelines for cervical cancer screening have been updated to include human papillomavirus (HPV) testing, which is more sensitive compared to cytology in detecting cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. Because of its increased sensitivity, a negative HPV test is more reassuring for a woman that she is at low risk for precancerous cervical lesions than a negative Pap test. Prompted by the inadequate translation of HPV test-based screening guidelines into practice, we aimed to synthesize the literature regarding health care providers (HCPs) knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to HPV testing and the influence of psychosocial factors on HCPs acceptability of HPV testing in primary cervical cancer screening. Materials and Methods: We searched MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Global Health, and Web of Science for journal articles from January 1, 1980 to July 25, 2018. A narrative synthesis of HCPs knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to HPV testing is provided. Informed by the Patient Pathway framework, we used deductive thematic analysis to synthesize the influence of psychosocial factors on HCPs acceptability of HPV testing. Results: The most important HCP knowledge gaps are related to the superior sensitivity of the HPV test and age-specific guideline recommendations for HPV testing. Thirty to fifty percent of HCPs are not compliant with guideline recommendations for HPV testing, for example, screening at shorter intervals than recommended. Barriers, facilitators, and contradictory evidence of HCPs' acceptability of the HPV test are grouped by category: (1) factors related to the HCP; (2) patient intrinsic factors; (3) factors corresponding to HCP's practice environment; and (4) health care system factors. Conclusions: HCP's adherence to guidelines for HPV testing in cervical cancer screening is suboptimal and could be improved by specialty organizations ensuring consistency across guidelines. Targeted educational interventions to address barriers of HPV test acceptability identified in this review may facilitate the translation of HPV testing recommendations into practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)390-405
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2020



  • HPV test
  • HPV test acceptability
  • attitudes and beliefs
  • cervical cancer screening
  • cervical cancer screening guidelines
  • health care providers
  • knowledge

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