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.