Patient Centered Approach to the Well Woman Examination

The well-woman examination is an opportunity for the family physician to promote health, prevent disease, and strengthen the physician-female patient relationship. Although women have traditionally been advised to see their doctors for an "annual examination," which includes a Papanicolaou smear, new screening guidelines have widened the scope of the visit and deemphasized the Pap smear (which may not be needed on an annual basis). Building a trusting relationship is important because women may be more likely to volunteer sensitive problems with a physician they trust. In addition, some women may have had previous negative experiences with pelvic examinations.

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