Date of Defense

Spring 4-5-2011



First Advisor

Kelly D. Ackerson, Nursing

Second Advisor

Mary D. Lagerwey, Nursing

Third Advisor

Ruth Zielinksi, Nursing


women's health, urogenital


Background: Pap smear test is an important cervical cancer screening test that identifies pre-cancerous cells that may lead to cervical cancer if left untreated. In a review of the research literature spanning the previous ten years, the predominant theme was that there is a lack of knowledge of pap smears as well as lack of knowledge about the link between HPV and cervical cancer.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore perceived benefits and barriers of Pap smear testing and perceptions of vulnerability among a group of female undergraduate nursing students.

Methods: An invitation to participate in this study was e-mailed to 267 undergraduate female nursing students at western Michigan University. A recruitment script was used to provide the participants with the purpose of the research and Informed Consent with a link to the questionnaire through SurveyMonkey©1999-2010. The Pap Smear Belief Questionnaire (PSBQ) was administered to evaluate the nursing students’ beliefs and barriers associated with Pap smears and perceptions of vulnerability to cervical cancer. Relationships were examined between the demographics and screening behavior and the routine group was compared with the non-routine group using a Mann-Whitney test.

Results: The findings indicated that there was a significant difference between the groups in perceived benefits and perceived barriers. There was no statistically significant difference in the perceived vulnerability. The variables such as Pap smear test’s ability to find abnormal cells early, fear of the Pap smears and results, knowledge of access, and time constraints were unique to this study. The study concluded that it is important to emphasize the importance of preventative health to all women regardless of their educational level.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only