Confusion about mammography: prevalence and consequences

J Womens Health Gend Based Med. 1999 May;8(4):509-20. doi: 10.1089/jwh.1.1999.8.509.


Over the last decade, there has been significant controversy about the schedule on which women, particularly women in their 40s, should have mammograms. The purpose of the analysis reported here was to assess whether women in their 40s and 50s were confused as a result of the controversy following the January 1997 National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference on Breast Cancer Screening For Women Ages 40-49. We also examined if confusion was related to being off schedule for mammography. The study sample included 1287 women recruited from a random sample of 2165 Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina members. The data described in this analysis were derived from a baseline telephone interview conducted as part of a larger intervention trial. Study measures included a variety of sociodemographic, medical, belief, and behavioral variables. Overall, 28% of women were confused, and 35% were off schedule. Although a higher proportion of women in their 40s than 50s were confused, more women in their 50s were off schedule. Confusion was a significant predictor for the outcome being off schedule. Predictors of confusion included several belief variables, risk perceptions, age (40s), whether the woman had a regular physician, and whether she had enough information about mammography. Healthcare providers should ask some simple questions to determine if women are confused and then seek to meet their information needs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Appointments and Schedules
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Mammography* / statistics & numerical data
  • Mass Screening*
  • Middle Aged
  • North Carolina
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Random Allocation