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The Lived Experience of Women With Abnormal Papanicolaou Smears Receiving Care in a Military Health Care Setting

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Technical Report

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Uniformed Services University Of The Health Sciences Bethesda United States

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The Papanicolaou Pap smear is one of modern medicines greatest success stories. Since its introduction in 1942, this cost-effective procedure has greatly reduced morbidity and mortality from cervical cancer. Despite the effectiveness of this screening tool, patient compliance with treatment recommendations for abnormal Pap smears remains low. This qualitative research study explored the lived experience of women with abnormal Pap smears receiving care in a military health care setting. The purpose was to describe this phenomenon and contribute to existing knowledge, with the intent of understanding the experiences of women with abnormal Pap smear results. A purposive sample of six women who had received abnormal Pap smear results was engaged for data generation. Open-ended interviews were conducted, and transcripts of the interviews were reviewed and analyzed for themes, interpretation, and meaning of the lived experience. Participants words and descriptions were integrated and provided the foundation of the study. From twenty-seven interpretive data clusters, seven essential themes emerged. The themes included pre-experience knowledge, facing an abnormal Pap smear result, contextualizing, doing something, negotiating being more than a cervix, adapting and coping, and sharing. These themes illuminated the essence of the experience as it was lived and facilitated the description of the phenomenon under investigation.

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