Mobile mammography: assessment of self-referral in reaching medically underserved women

J Natl Med Assoc. 2007 Apr;99(4):398-403.


Background: Mobile mammography can be useful in reaching medically underserved women. However, it is not known whether self-referral for mobile mammography is the best approach for reaching the most vulnerable populations.

Objectives: 1) To describe the community outreach patterns of a county-sponsored mobile mammography unit, 2) To characterize the follow-up patterns for women with abnormal screening mammograms, and 3) to identify reasons why women screened on mobile units seek follow-up care outside of the safety-net system.

Methods: We prospectively followed women aged > or = 40 years who received mobile mammograms using electronic records and medical chart review, and surveyed women who had no evidence of diagnostic follow-up. We also reviewed administrative records to determine outreach patterns of the mobile mammography units.

Results: Seventy-five percent of mobile visits were with community-based organizations or community health centers. At least one quarter of women chose to follow-up outside of the safety-net for evaluation of abnormal screening mammograms. Of these, nearly 40% reported having insurance or a private physician as the primary reason for having diagnostic evaluation outside of the public hospital system.

Conclusions: Despite serving primarily community-based facilities, self-referral for mobile mammography may not optimally target medically underserved women most in need of breast cancer screening.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Breast Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Community-Institutional Relations
  • Continuity of Patient Care
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility* / economics
  • Humans
  • Illinois
  • Local Government
  • Mammography / economics
  • Mammography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mass Screening*
  • Medically Underserved Area*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobile Health Units / economics
  • Mobile Health Units / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mobile Health Units / supply & distribution
  • Prospective Studies
  • Public Health Administration
  • Risk Factors
  • Women's Health Services / economics
  • Women's Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Women's Health Services / supply & distribution