How Is Health Literacy Related to Pap Testing Among US Women?

Erika L. Thompson, Christopher W. Wheldon, Cheryl A. Vamos, Stacey B. Griner, Ellen M. Daley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


While Pap testing has significantly reduced the burden of cervical cancer, not all women follow prevention recommendations of cervical cancer screening every 3 years. Health literacy regarding Pap testing may influence the adoption of this behavior. The objective of this study was to assess the health literacy-related factors associated with Pap testing among a nationally representative sample of women in the USA. The Health Information National Trends Survey Cycles 4.4 and 5.1 were restricted to women 21–65 years of age (N = 2992). Questions were selected using the Integrated Model of Health Literacy domains: access (i.e., seeking cancer information), understand (i.e., HPV awareness, HPV knowledge), appraise (i.e., prevention not possible, chance of getting cancer), and apply (i.e., received a Pap in last 3 years [outcome]). Survey-weighted, logistic regression models estimated how the health literacy domains were associated with Pap testing, using SAS 9.4. In the sample, 81.1% of women received a Pap test within the last 3 years. The analysis revealed women who knew HPV is an STD (aOR = 1.64, 95% CI 1.20–2.26) were more likely to have received a Pap test in the last 3 years, while controlling for sociodemographic factors. These findings indicate that knowledge about HPV may be associated with Pap testing behavior among US women. Continued research is needed to examine the impact of health literacy on Pap testing given the changes in screening guidelines, with the ultimate goal of decreasing cervical cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789-795
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2019


  • Cervical cancer
  • Health literacy
  • Screening
  • Women


Dive into the research topics of 'How Is Health Literacy Related to Pap Testing Among US Women?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this