Exploring Health-Care Provider Attitudes Toward HPV Self-Collection Testing

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Investigators found that more than 50% of health-care providers surveyed might offer human papillomavirus (HPV) self-collection testing to their patients if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the procedure, according to a recent study published by Fontenot et al in Women’s Health Issues.


In 2019, more than 12,000 and 4,000 U.S. patients were newly diagnosed with and died of cervical cancer, respectively. Previous studies have identified a causal link between HPV infections and the development of cervical cancer. Current screening guidelines for the disease are under review to incorporate updated recommendations.

On May 15, the FDA approved vaginal self-collection testing for HPV. As a result, several countries—including the Netherlands and Australia—have introduced HPV self-collection testing as a part of their national screening programs.

Study Methods and Results

In the recent study, the investigators used a mixed-methods design that included conducting a national survey and interviews with health-care providers who performed cervical cancer screening. Quantitative measures consisted of provider and practice characteristics, willingness to recommend self-collection testing, and preferences related to self-collection. The interviews further elucidated the providers’ perspectives.

The investigators found that more than 50% of health-care providers would definitely or possibly offer HPV self-collection testing to their patients if the FDA approved the procedure—indicating substantial acceptance of this screening method among the health-care provider community.

“Health-care providers felt that self-collection [testing] would be particularly beneficial for those who did not have access to clinician-collected screening as well as for patients who may have difficulty with pelvic exams for any reason—such as those with [a] history of trauma, sexual or gender minority patients, and those with mobility issues,” detailed senior study author Rebecca B. Perkins, MD, MSc, Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine as well as an obstetrician and gynecologist at Boston Medical Center.

The investigators discovered that male health-care providers; advanced practice providers; internal and family physicians; and those practicing in an academic medical center, hospital, or community health setting were more likely to support self-collection testing compared with female participants, OB-GYN physicians, and those in private practice.


The investigators highlighted that the recent approval of HPV self-collection testing in the United States may provide another option for cervical cancer screening and may help to reduce barriers related to access or personal medical conditions in this patient population.

“While we found [health-care] providers considered HPV self-collection [testing] to be a way to expand access for patients, they also expressed concerns related to the quality of the sample in generating accurate results,” underscored lead study author Holly Fontenot, PhD, RN/NP, FAAN, Professor of Nursing at the University of Hawaii.

Disclosure: The research in this study was funded in part by the American Cancer Society. For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.