Efficacy of a simple, low-cost educational intervention in improving knowledge about risks and benefits of screening mammography

Mayo Clin Proc. 2006 Jun;81(6):783-91. doi: 10.4065/81.6.783.


Objectives: To assess the efficacy of a minimal cost and involvement educational intervention in improving women's knowledge about screening mammography and to explore patient perceptions of the educational intervention.

Participants and methods: During the study period (March 10, 2005, to July 1, 2005), 1446 participants in the Mayo Mammography Health Study scheduled for a mammogram within 4 weeks at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn, were randomized to 2 study groups and mailed surveys about mammograms. The 2 groups received separate surveys; both surveys contained knowledge-based questions about mammography, but the educational intervention group survey also contained qualitative questions that assessed the educational pamphlets.

Results: Of the 668 surveys returned (responders), 248 (34.4%) were from the control group, and 420 (58.3%) were from the intervention group. Approximately 80% of responders had had more than 7 prior mammograms. Significant increases in knowledge about mammography were found in the educational intervention compared with the control group on questions regarding age to begin screening mammography (67.9% vs 54.4%; P < .001), recommended frequency of mammograms (86.4% vs 75.4%; P < .001), overall reduction in mortality due to screening mammography (55.2% vs 8.9%; P < .001), and proportions of women who required follow-up mammograms (35.5% vs 14.9%; P < .001) or biopsy (59.5% vs 13.3%; P < .001). Qualitative data results indicated that most women who received the educational intervention found the pamphlets helpful and informative despite having had many previous mammograms.

Conclusion: The results suggest that providing women scheduled for screening mammograms with physician-approved educational material before their appointment significantly increases knowledge about screening mammography, risks and benefits, and possible follow-up.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Mammography*
  • Mass Screening*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pamphlets
  • Patient Education as Topic* / economics
  • Patient Satisfaction