Gaps between recommendations and their implementation: A register-based study of follow-up after abnormalities in cervical cancer screening

Susanne Fogh Jørgensen, Berit Andersen, Matejka Rebolj, Sisse Helle Njor

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Follow-up after screen-detected abnormalities is crucial for the success of cervical cancer screening programs but is usually not closely monitored in official screening statistics. We determined how the follow-up deviated from the recommendations in the Danish organized program. Using Danish nationwide population-based registers, the follow-up pathways of 60,199 women aged 23–59 with non-negative screening samples from 2012 to 2014 were mapped until end of 2018. We studied the timeliness and appropriateness of follow-up tests after cervical cytology screening and the total resource use in accordance with the national recommendations. Regression analyses were used to determine variations in adherence according to age, provider type, region, and history of abnormalities. Among women referred for immediate colposcopy, 91.3% (95% CI: 90.9%–91.6%) attended within four months as recommended, whereas up to about half of the women with a recommendation for a repeat test received this test either too early or very late. Overall, only 43% (95% CI: 42.9%–43.7%) of women with non-negative screening tests received the recommended follow-up, whereas 18% (95% CI: 17.6%–18.2%) received more than was recommended, 35% (95% CI: 34.4%–35.1%) received some follow-up but less than recommended and 4% (95% CI: 3.9%–4.2%) were not followed up at all. These proportions varied by screening diagnosis, woman's age, type of health care provider, region, and history of abnormalities. On average, women underwent more tests of each type than recommended by the guidelines. Deviations from follow-up recommendations are very frequent even in organized cervical screening programs and should be routinely monitored by screening program statistics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106468
JournalPreventive Medicine
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia
  • Colposcopy
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Papillomavirus Infections
  • Pregnancy
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms/diagnosis
  • Vaginal Smears


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