Changing practice patterns for cytotechnologists: a comparative analysis of data from the 2009 and 2015 ASCP BOC Practice Analysis Surveys

Academic Article


  • Background: The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Board of Certification (BOC) surveys US certified cytotechnologists (CTs) at approximately 5-year intervals to gain information about current practice patterns. Although the purpose of this survey is to inform valid content development for the BOC CT examination, comparative longitudinal analysis of the survey data provides information about changes in cytotechnology practice. Materials and Methods: BOC Practice Analysis Survey data for 2009 and 2015 were examined, comparing survey demographics and performance of laboratory tasks. The 2015 survey added tasks not previously surveyed and considered them emerging when performed by a majority of respondents. Results: Two hundred thirty-five participants completed the survey in 2015 and 151 in 2009. Respondents reported an overall decrease in performing conventional Papanicolaou tests (−25.3%). Respondents reported increases in morphologic tasks such cytology–histology correlation (17.5%), cell-block interpretation (17.5%), and preliminary interpretation of histochemical stains (e.g., mucin and Grocott's methenamine silver stain) (16.7%), as well as quality assurance tasks. Majority-performed, newly surveyed tasks included touch prep preparation (57.8%) and interpretation (59.2%) and ancillary test triage (59.6%). Molecular tasks such as tumor identification (6.8%) and preparation of cytology specimens for oncology molecular testing (9.4%) did not meet majority-reporting thresholds. Conclusions: Although performance of the Papanicolaou test is declining, CTs report increases in additional morphologic as well as other laboratory tasks. Emerging tasks (2015) focus on FNA specimens. Knowledge of cytology practice patterns will help guide development of education and training resources toward maintaining an appropriately trained workforce.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Roberson J; Ali AM; Clark J; Eltoum I; Ritter D; Soles R
  • Start Page

  • 232
  • End Page

  • 239
  • Volume

  • 7
  • Issue

  • 5