Methods: The relationship between physician encouragement and breast cancer screening is examined with a population-based survey of 630 women between the ages of 45 and 75. Although the women interviewed were selected on the basis of their noncompliance with mammography guidelines, nearly half had previously had at least one mammogram.
Results: Women reported having received more physician encouragement of breast self-examination than of mammography. Older women reported less encouragement of both screening modalities than younger women. Multivariate analyses revealed physician encouragement to be more strongly associated with screening mammography than with health status, health care utilization, attitudes, and sociodemographic characteristics: those who reported having received physician encouragement were nearly four times more likely to have ever had screening mammography.
Conclusions: These and related findings are used to highlight the critical importance of physician behavior in the secondary prevention of breast cancer in older women and to identify types of patients whose needs for screening are most likely to be overlooked by physicians.