Background: Since 1990, the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (BCCEDP) has funded breast cancer screening and diagnostic services for low-income, underinsured women. Case management was implemented in 2001 to address barriers to follow-up after an abnormal mammogram, and free treatment was introduced in 2004. However, the effect of these policies on timeliness of care has not been empirically evaluated.
Methods: Among 2252 BCCEDP participants in Massachusetts during 1998 through 2007, we conducted a time-to-event analysis with prepolicy-postpolicy comparisons to examine associations of case management and free treatment with diagnostic and treatment delays (>60 days and >90 days, respectively) after an abnormal mammogram.
Results: The proportion of women experiencing a diagnostic delay decreased from 33% to 23% after the introduction of case management (P < .001), with a significant reduction in the adjusted risk of diagnostic delay (relative risk [RR], 0.65; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.53-0.79) that did not differ by race and ethnicity. However, case management was not associated with changes in treatment delay (RR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.80-1.10). Free treatment was not associated with changes in the adjusted risk of diagnostic delay (RR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.33-1.14) or treatment delay (RR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.43-1.38) beyond improvements associated with case management.
Conclusions: Case management to assist women in overcoming logistic and psychosocial barriers to care may improve time to diagnosis among low-income women who receive free breast cancer screening and diagnostic services. Programs that provide services to coordinate care, in addition to free screening and diagnostic tests, may improve population health.