Objective: Many women in the U.S. undergo routine cervical cancer screening, but some women have rarely or never had a Papanicolaou (Pap) test. Studies of other cancer screening tests (for example, mammograms) have shown that physician recommendation to get a screening test is one of the strongest predictors of cancer screening. Methods: In this study, we examined whether women in the U.S. had received a physician recommendation to get a Pap test using data from the 2000 National Health Interview Survey. Reported reasons for not receiving a Pap test were also explored. Results: Among women aged ≥18 years who had no history of hysterectomy, 83.3% [95% confidence interval (CI), 82.4-84.1%] of the 13,636 women in this sample had had a Pap test in the last 3 years. Among 2,310 women who had not had a recent Pap test, reported reasons for not receiving a Pap test included: "No reason/never thought about it" (48.0%; 95% CI, 45.5-50.7), "Doctor didn't order it" (10.3%; 95% CI, 8.7-12.0), "Didn't need it/didn't know I needed this type of test" (8.1%; 95% CI, 6.7-9.6), "Haven't had any problems" (9.0%; 95% CI, 7.6-10.5), "Put it off" (7.4%; 95% CI, 6.2-8.7), "Too expensive/no insurance" (8.7%; 95% CI, 7.3-10.2), "Too painful, unpleasant, embarrassing" (3.5%; 95% CI, 2.5-4.6), and "Don't have doctor" (1.7%; 95% CI, 1.2-2.4). Among women who had had a doctor visit in the last year but who had not had a recent Pap test, about 86.7% (95% CI, 84.5-88.6) reported that their doctor had not recommended a Pap test in the last year. African-American women were as likely as White women to have received a doctor recommendation to get a Pap test. Hispanic women were as likely as non-Hispanic women to have received a doctor recommendation to get a Pap test. In multivariate analysis, factors positively associated with doctor recommendation to get a Pap test included being aged 30 to 64 years, having been born in the U.S., and having seen a specialist or general doctor in the past year. Conclusion: These findings suggest that lack of a physician recommendation contributes to underuse of Pap screening by many eligible women. Given research that shows the effectiveness of physician recommendations in improving use, increased physician recommendations could contribute significantly to increased Pap screening use in the U.S.
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