Background: The objective of this study was to compare the response received by a population-based breast cancer screening program, according to three different invitation strategies: letters sent by mail from the program (program group), letters sent by mail from the Primary Health Care Team (PHT group), and direct contact through a trained professional (direct contact group).
Methods: We used a cluster-randomized controlled trial with assignment to invitation group using home address. Nine hundred eighty-six women of Barcelona (Spain), ages 50 to 64 years, were invited to participate in the program. The main outcome used was the response rate after the first invitation.
Results: Five hundred sixty-four women accepted the invitation (57.2%). The highest response rate was achieved in the direct contact group (63.5%), followed by the PHT group (55.6%), the program group being the one that attained the lowest response rate (52.1%). The direct contact group had a higher probability of participating than the PHT group (RR = 1.14, P = 0.037) or the program group (RR = 1.22, P = 0.003). The response rate in the direct contact group was 72.1% when the letter was received by the subject herself. The increase in response occurred particularly among women of lower educational level.
Conclusions: Inviting women to participate in a breast cancer screening program through direct contact by trained personnel increased participation rate compared with mailed-letter methods. The positive effect appeared restricted to women with lower educational levels.
Copyright 2001 American Health Foundation and Academic Press.