But an extensive systematic review of the literature on pap tests revealed that the “facts” many people rely upon to support pap tests are based on flawed science that has skewed the results. The systematic review found that the majority of studies which claim to assess the accuracy of pap tests are severely biased in favor of making the pap tests appear effective. What’s more, the literature revealed insufficient high-quality data to estimate the accuracy of new methods used in pap testing.
A group of eight doctors authored this systematic review. The review included a total of 97 studies looking at the accuracy of conventional and new methods of pap testing. After examining the 97 studies the authors concluded:
• Estimates of pap test sensitivity (true positive rate) and specificity (true negative rate) varied greatly between studies
• The majority of the studies estimates were biased
• The 12 studies with the least biased estimates revealed a sensitivity accuracy rate that ranged from a shocking 30% to 87%
The authors recommended that future studies should use more conservative estimates of pap test sensitivity. You can read the review here: http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=713473