More than half of women do not get regular mammograms

Research Activities, February 2011, No. 366

Public health campaigns frequently stress that regular screening mammograms can reduce a woman's chance of dying from breast cancer. However, researchers in North Carolina found that more than half of the 1,493 insured women they studied did not stick to a regular screening schedule over a 3-year period. Using data from the Personally Relevant Information about Screening Mammography (PRISM) study, researchers found that women in their 40s were more likely than women in their 50s to forgo regular mammograms. Further, women who rated their health as fair or poor were also likely to skip screening mammograms compared with women who rated their health as good or excellent.

Women were more likely to not get regular mammograms if they were less satisfied with their last mammography experience, reported one or more barriers to getting mammograms, had weaker intentions to get a mammogram, or were not confident about their ability to get a mammogram when due. This low rate of adherence to screening mammography schedules was particularly troubling because of the unique characteristics of women in the PRISM study. All women entered PRISM with health insurance and recent mammograms 8 to 9 months before enrolling in the study. Most women maintained positive attitudes toward mammography, and were similar on many sociodemographic characteristics associated with mammography use (e.g., college educated, higher income, insured). Moreover, all received regular reminders about scheduling their mammograms.

These findings provide insights into how to craft future health promotion efforts to enhance regular use of breast cancer screening via mammography. However, more work is needed to continue to search for factors that can be the basis of future mammography maintenance interventions or study specific groups of women most in need of extra attention. This study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (T32 HS00032). PRISM was funded by the National Cancer Institute.

See "Longitudinal predictors of nonadherence to maintenance of mammography," by Jennifer M. Gierisch, Ph.D., M.P.H., Jo Anne Earp, Sc.D., Noel T. Brewer, Ph.D., and Barbara K. Rimer, Dr.Ph., in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention 19(4), pp. 1103-1111, 2010.

Current as of February 2011
Internet Citation: More than half of women do not get regular mammograms: Research Activities, February 2011, No. 366. February 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.