Does mammographic screening and a negative result affect attitudes towards future breast screening?

Constance H.C. Drossaert, Hendrik Boer, E.R. Seydel

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OBJECTIVES:To investigate the impact of an experience of a benign mammographic result on intention to seek medical help immediately in the case of breast abnormalities, and on intentions and thoughts about future participation in screening. SETTING:The Dutch Breast Cancer Screening Programme for women aged 50¿69. METHODS:Subjects were women who were invited for an initial breast examination: 223 women filled out a questionnaire about 10 days before and about 6 weeks after their initial breast examination. To be able to control for possible test effects, another group of 293 women filled out a questionnaire only after mammography. Changes in thoughts and intentions were examined. RESULTS:Most women were very satisfied with the course of their initial breast examination, although pain or discomfort was often mentioned. No clues to suggest false reassurance were found: more than 99% of the women would consider the possibility of breast cancer if they felt a lump in one of their breasts. In such a situation, most women intended to seek medical help within a week. These variables were not influenced by the experience of mammography with a benign result. In general, women were very positive about (repeat) participation, both before and after screening. After screening, the average woman perceived fewer costs in participating, and perceived her own ability to engage in future screening as higher. However, the experience of pain and anxiety during the initial screening did lead to reverse effects. Women who were less satisfied about their treatment by the staff were more likely to change their intentions to reparticipate in a negative way. CONCLUSIONS:As, in general, women became more positive about regular participation after they had attended breast cancer screening, efforts to improve first round attendance must be continued. At the same time, the screening organisations must continue to prioritise the high level of client friendliness throughout the screening. No evidence for detrimental effects of screening through false reassurance among participants was found.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)204-212
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of medical screening
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • IR-42195
  • METIS-200728

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