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Gender discrimination is linked to mammogram nonadherence in affluent women

Less than half of all women receive regular mammograms, even though these images are effective in detecting breast cancer early. One group that does not adhere to mammography guidelines is women who earn more than $50,000 a year and experienced gender discrimination at some point in their lives, a new study finds.

Amy B. Dailey, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the University of Florida, and colleagues conducted telephone interviews with 1,451 women who received a baseline mammogram in Connecticut between October 1996 and January 1998. During telephone interviews, researchers asked the women if they ever experienced gender discrimination at school, while getting a job, at work, at home, while getting medical care, in public, or from the police. They also determined if the women adhered to the American Cancer Society's 1996 guidelines that recommended women between the ages of 40 and 49 receive one mammogram within 2 years and 2 months of their baseline mammogram. Almost 38 percent of the women reported experiencing gender discrimination at least once in their lifetime, most commonly at work (19.7 percent) or in public (18.6 percent).

Though 80.7 percent of the women said they received regular mammograms, only 52.5 percent adhered to the 1996 guidelines. The researchers were unable to uphold their hypothesis that gender discrimination is linked to not adhering to mammography guidelines, with the exception of the high-earning group. This group of women may be experiencing "overperformance demand," a situation in which women work harder and longer than others in the workplace to gain recognition, the authors suggest. This overperforming may cause them to neglect other areas in their lives, such as getting routine mammograms. This study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS15686).

See "Does gender discrimination impact regular mammography screening? Findings from the race differences in screening mammography study," by Dr. Dailey, Stanislav V. Kasl, Ph.D., and Beth A. Jones, Ph.D., M.P.H., in the March 2008 Journal of Women's Health 17(2), pp. 195-206.

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