OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the association between physician and practice characteristics and adherence to management guidelines to better understand the factors associated with different screening recommendations by primary care physicians.
METHODS: We used a cross-sectional nationally representative survey of 950 primary care physicians familiar with human papillomavirus (HPV) testing to assess adherence to management guidelines by analyzing responses to two clinical vignettes of a 35-year-old woman who had Pap and HPV tests results: 1) discordant (normal Pap and positive HPV) or 2) mildly abnormal (atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance Pap and negative HPV). Analyses included multivariable logistic regression.
RESULTS: For the discordant test results, 54.3% (95% confidence interval [CI] 51–57.6%) of physicians recommended both Pap and HPV testing in 6–12 months, adhering to management guidelines. For the mildly abnormal results, only 12.2% (95% CI 10–14.7%) had a guideline-adherent recommendation of Pap testing in 12 months with no HPV test. In multivariable analyses, no significant difference among physicians' specialties was observed for the discordant results. For the mildly abnormal results, physician specialty was associated with guideline adherence in which obstetrician–gynecologists had the highest percent of adherence (19.8%) compared with family and general practitioners (9.3%) and internists (11%) (P<.001).
CONCLUSION: Even for the most common abnormal results, many physicians reported recommendations that did not adhere to current management guidelines. Evidence-based interventions are needed to improve adherence to management guidelines for the newer HPV DNA test.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: III