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Keywords:

  • Cervical cancer screening tests;
  • ThinPrep;
  • adoption;
  • family physicians;
  • gynecologists;
  • medical decision making

Objective. To examine reasons for the adoption of liquid-based cervical cancer screening tests.

Data Sources/Study Setting. A mailed survey of 250 family physicians and 250 gynecologists in Maryland in 2000. Additional data were obtained from the AMA Master File of Physicians.

Study Design. Key outcome variables in this cross-sectional survey were early adoption of a liquid-based test by the end of 1997 and overall adoption by the time of the survey. Adoption was viewed in terms of a supply and demand theoretical framework with marketing influencing physician and patient demand as well as supply by insurance companies and laboratories.

Data Collection. Random samples of family physicians and gynecologists were selected from the AMA Master File of Physicians. The overall response rate was 61.9 percent.

Principal Findings. By 2000, 96 percent of gynecologists and 75 percent of family physicians in Maryland were using liquid-based cervical cancer screening tests, most commonly the ThinPrep® Pap Test™. Gynecologists were more likely than family physicians to have been early adopters (34 percent versus 5 percent, p<.01). Part of this variation in adoption was due to aggressive marketing to gynecologists, who were more likely than family physicians to receive information in the mail from the test manufacturer (89 percent versus 56 percent, p<.01) and to have been informed by the manufacturer that a patient had inquired about physicians' use of the test (22 percent versus 8 percent, p<.01).

Conclusions. The rapid diffusion of liquid-based cervical cancer screening tests occurred despite general agreement that the Pap smear has been one of the most successful cancer prevention interventions ever. Commercial marketing campaigns appear to contribute to the more rapid rate of diffusion of technology among specialists compared with generalists.