Research Article

Cervical cytology in the Vale of Trent faculty of the Royal College of General Practitioners, 1985-8.

BMJ 1990; 300 doi: (Published 10 February 1990) Cite this as: BMJ 1990;300:376
  1. A Wilson
  1. Department of General Practice, University of Nottingham, Queen's Medical Centre.


    OBJECTIVE--To assess changes in the organisation and performance of cervical cytology programmes in the practices of members of the Vale of Trent faculty of the Royal College of General Practitioners. DESIGN--Retrospective audits completed in 1985 and 1988 by general practitioners on a sequential sample of 100 records of women aged 35-64 in their practice. SETTING--General practices in which one or more partners were members or associates of the Vale of Trent faculty of the college, of which 76 participated in the first audit and 55 (82% of 67 eligible practices) in the second. SUBJECTS--Sequential samples of 100 women born between 1 January 1920 and 31 December 1949 (first audit) and between 1 January 1923 and 31 December 1952 (second audit) whose surnames began with P or B respectively. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Percentage of women in each practice with a record of cervical cytology performed in the previous five years and percentage with no recorded smear. RESULTS--Of the 76 practices completing the audit in 1985, 55 (82% of those eligible) repeated the exercise in 1988. Performance was not significantly different in practices that did and did not respond. The median percentage of women who had had a smear in the previous five years was 49% and 69% in 1985 and 1988 respectively (p less than 0.001) and that of women with no record of a cervical smear was 28% and 16% respectively (p less than 0.001). All but six practices showed improvement in both outcome measures. In both audits an active call system was associated with a significantly increased performance (p less than 0.05). In nine practices (16%) 80% or more of the samples of women had had a smear in the previous five years. CONCLUSION--Organisation and performance of practices audited improved between 1985 and 1988. Although this might result from participation in the first audit, it probably represents a more general trend within primary care. ACTION--Between the two audits more practices (87% v 67%) had developed a policy on screening, and this was more likely to include the aim of performing regular smears on all sexually active women (98% v 80%).