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Impact of changes to cervical screening guidelines on age and interval at which women are tested: Population-based study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)969141320953446
JournalJournal of Medical Screening
E-pub ahead of print30 Aug 2020

King's Authors


BACKGROUND: English cervical screening programme guidelines changed between 2009 and 2012. We explore the impact on the age and intervals at which women receive a cytology test.

METHODS: Eligible women were controls from a population-based case-control study in England. Tests taken between 1980 and 2017 were extracted from the call/recall database. Using the Kaplan-Meier estimator by birth cohort and age at (or time since) last test, we explore proportions tested since or prior to a given age, years since previous test, and interval following a negative test.

RESULTS: Screening histories from 46,037 women were included. Proportion tested by age 26 has increased from 55% among birth cohorts 1978-1979 to 67% among those born 1990-1991, despite more recent cohorts only having received one invitation (instead of two) prior to age 26. The proportion of women tested at aged 28 with a test three years earlier increased by 20% (from 36% in 1997-2006 to 56% in 2012-2017) whereas the proportion tested at ages 23-27 without a prior test increased from 34% to 80%. The age at last test prior to exiting the programme has decreased: among those born 1928-1931 86% had a test aged 60-65, but only 71% of those born 1947-1951.

CONCLUSION: Clear programme guidance alongside quality assurance has improved the cervical screening programme by standardising the age and intervals at which women are screened.

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