Narrowing the equity gap: the impact of organized versus opportunistic cancer screening in Catalonia (Spain)

J Med Screen. 2011;18(2):87-90. doi: 10.1258/jms.2011.010086.


Objectives: To assess the impact on equity of access of an organized breast cancer screening programme, compared with opportunistic breast and cervical cancer screening activities.

Methods: Two cross-sectional health interview surveys conducted in 1994 and 2006 in Catalonia (Spain), with 6382 and 7653 women participating in both surveys. The main outcome measures were having undergone regular mammography, and regular cytology. Age-standardized prevalence rates for both screening tests were computed using the direct method. The relative inequality index was computed to measure changes over time in inequality on screening utilization.

Results: Participation among women aged 50-69 has increased after the introduction of the organized breast screening programme; the greatest impact has been observed among those women with lower educational levels (from 17% in 1994 to 79% in 2006). Equity of access by education was particularly increased in the target group for breast cancer screening.

Conclusion: This study indicates that an organized screening programme could improve participation and equity of access.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Early Detection of Cancer / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Mammography
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Spain