The Annual Pap Test: A Dubious Policy Success

The annual Pap test became a recommended standard for American women without ever having been subjected to controlled trials to estimate its efficacy and effectiveness. After more than 30 years of routine use, the Pap test fails to meet most of the generally accepted criteria for a mass screening program. The policy persists, however, because the nation’s ideology supports the maximum utilization of new technologies; and special interest groups have promoted the test as the major weapon in the “War on Cancer.” With some exceptions, this is a questionable allocation of public and private health resources.

Author(s): Anne-Marie Foltz; Jennifer L. Kelsey

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Volume 56, Issue 4 (pages 426–462)
Published in 1978