Objectives: Time costs borne by women when undergoing cervical cancer screening have rarely been elucidated, although such costs may pose substantial barriers to care. The purpose of this project was to quantify the opportunity costs associated with cervical cancer screening in young women attending Planned Parenthood Clinics.
Methods: We conducted a self-report survey of 105 women from six clinics to measure travel, waiting, and exam times associated with cervical cancer screening. Respondents recorded their time of arrival and departure, length of time in the waiting room, age, income level, and hours per week they worked outside of the home. Time costs were valued three ways: through self-reported hourly wage, age- and gender-adjusted minimum earnings, and national age- and gender-adjusted hourly wages.
Results: Respondents were on average 24 years old, worked 29 hours per week outside the home, and earned less than $20,000 per year. Mean time for one-way travel was 18.7 minutes; waiting room time was 16.9 minutes; and exam time was 50.8 minutes. Time costs were estimated to be $14.08 per visit based upon the self-reported hourly wage; $16.46 per visit based upon age- and gender-adjusted minimum earnings; and $19.63 per visit based upon age- and gender-adjusted national wage rates.
Conclusions: Time costs associated with cervical cancer screening represent an important opportunity cost and should be considered in studies attempting to identify barriers to screening adherence. Our results indicate that time costs accounted for up to 25% of cervical cancer screening costs. Time costs should be identified, measured, valued, and included in cost-effectiveness analyses of cervical cancer screening.