Breast screening attendance: making better use of an appointment system

J Med Screen. 2001;8(1):36-8. doi: 10.1136/jms.8.1.36.


Objectives: To improve the effective use of screening appointment time on mobile units and even out the daily workload.

Setting: Ten sites screened by three Breast Test Wales mobile units between January and August 1999.

Methods: Women who had never attended for screening in previous screening rounds were identified and block booked into dedicated sessions at a rate of up to eight women per five minute slot. After piloting in the first site, the number in each slot was varied depending on how many rounds of screening these women had failed to attend. The numbers of women attending the remaining days were compared before and after the introduction of the new booking system.

Results: There was a noticeable difference in uptake rates for previous non-attenders depending on how many screening rounds they had missed. The uptake rate for women who had missed one round of screening was found to average 20%. For those who had missed two previous rounds it averaged 9% and for those who had missed three it averaged 3%. Before the change in booking procedure, the average attending each day was 51 (median 51), but after the change, the average was 57 (median 59). The overall time needed was decreased.

Conclusions: Booking dedicated sessions for previous non-attenders results is a more effective use of resources, reducing screening time in every site and levelling out attendance.

MeSH terms

  • Appointments and Schedules*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobile Health Units
  • National Health Programs
  • Pilot Projects
  • Wales