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Best practice following a cervical screening test (smear test)

After a smear test professional discusses the test with her patient

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After taking a cervical screening test it is essential to consider the following best practice guidelines:

Privacy for dressing

Ensuring the patient has privacy to dress and gather their thoughts is essential and should not be overlooked.

Ensure the patient has understood the purpose of the test

  • Ensure your patient is comfortable and re-seated
  • Talk to her about the test: what was done, what you saw, any bleeding or discharge seen, and ensure that you discuss this with her 
  • Ask how she is, does she have any questions?
  • Discuss the importance of always reporting any symptoms of cervical cancer such as abnormal bleeding or discharge. 

Clarifying results and where to go for further information 

  • Explain fully when the results will be sent and reiterate what action will be taken if cell changes or high-risk HPV are found
  • Explain that most women will receive their results within two weeks, and receiving their result within a few days does not mean there is anything to worry about. However, inform the patient that if she has not received her results after two weeks she should contact her GP to ask them to contact the laboratory
  • Give her an information leaflet on HPV/HPV testing, order free of charge using our resource centre
  • Reassure the patient that she is able to call the practice if she has any further questions.

Resources for you and your patients

If your patients require further information we have Information Standard accredited information on cervical screening, HPV and HPV testing, cervical abnormalities, online and printed resources. See our resources for health care professionals' page.

  • Our helpline is available for those women that want to talk about their screening and the results - open Monday to Friday 0808 802 8000.

Ending the consultation

  • Complete the test request form
  • Send the sample
  • Document the full procedure including any current history.

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Date last updated: 
17 May 2016
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