Association Between Sexual Behavior and Cervical Cancer Screening Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Not much is known about whether women who follow Pap testing recommendations report the same pattern of sexual behavior as women who do not. METHODS: Data come from part of a larger population-based computer-assisted telephone survey of 8656 Australians aged 16-64 years resident in Australian households with a fixed telephone line (Australian Longitudinal Study of Health and Relationships [ALSHR]). The main outcome measure in the current study was having had a Pap test in the past 2 years. RESULTS: Data on a weighted sample of 4052 women who reported sexual experience (ever had vaginal intercourse) were analyzed. Overall, 73% of women in the sample reported having a Pap test in the past 2 years. Variables individually associated with Pap testing behavior included age, education, occupation, cohabitation status, residential location, tobacco and alcohol use, body mass index (BMI), lifetime and recent number of opposite sex partners, sexually transmitted infection (STI) history, and condom reliance for contraception. In adjusted analyses, women in their 30s, those who lived with their partner, and nonsmokers were more likely to have had a recent Pap test. Those who drank alcohol at least weekly were more likely to have had a recent test than irregular drinkers or nondrinkers. Women with no sexual partners in the last year were less likely to have had a Pap test, and women who reported a previous STI diagnosis were more likely to have had a Pap test in the past 2 years. CONCLUSIONS: There are differences in Pap testing behavior among Australian women related to factors that may affect their risk of developing cervical abnormalities. Younger women and regular smokers were less likely to report a recent test. Screening programs should consider the need to focus recruitment strategies for these women.


  • Smith, Anthony MA
  • Heywood, Wendy
  • Ryall, Richard
  • Shelley, Julia M
  • Pitts, Marian K
  • Richters, Juliet
  • Simpson, Judy M
  • Patrick, Kent

publication date

  • July 2011