Background: Women who receive mammograms may fail to regularly return for repeat mammography. Many mammography facilities send annual patient reminders, but there are no large studies of their impact on overall mammography return rates, or by patient population subgroups.
Methods: Medicare claims data were used to identify New York women with claims for mammograms during a baseline and an 18-month follow-up period (1999-2000). Receipt of a second mammogram was examined in relation to whether the facility sends annual reminders, while controlling for other patient factors.
Results: Of 97,506 women studied, 76% attended facilities that send annual reminders. Of these women, 74% received a second mammogram within 18 months compared to 67% for other women. The impact of reminders was significant in all subgroups, but was less for women who were younger, minority, in Medicaid, in New York City or who received a diagnostic mammogram. In multivariate analysis, the adjusted odds ratio for return within 18 months if the facility uses reminders was 1.42 (95% CI 1.37-1.47).
Conclusions: Annual patient reminders from mammography facilities are effective in increasing regular repeat mammography in Medicare women, although their impact is smaller in some groups. Facilities that do not currently send reminders should be encouraged to do so.