Background: In Germany, a mammography-screening program (MSP) was implemented on a national level. It complies with all criteria of the European guidelines for quality assurance in screening mammography; however, the attendance rate is 54%, falling short of the target attendance rate of 70%. The aim of this study was to investigate whether additional telephone counseling improves attendance among nonresponders and the level of satisfaction with telephone counseling.
Design: In a prospective RCT, women identified as nonresponders in the MSP were randomized to a control group that received written reminders or to an intervention group that additionally received telephone counseling. In a follow-up, a subset of the intervention group was contacted by telephone regarding their satisfaction with telephone counseling.
Setting/participants: In 2008, a total of 5477 women aged 50-69 years who were eligible for the German MSP but had not participated up to 6 weeks after the first invitation were included in the study.
Interventions: Individual telephone counseling consisted of scripted calls from a trained counselor who provided information on MSP and answered the woman's questions.
Main outcome measures: Report of mammography use provided by the screening unit 3 months after the reminder was sent.
Results: Analysis was conducted in 2009. Comparison of screening attendance revealed a significantly higher attendance rate in the intervention group compared with controls (29.7% vs 26.1%, p=0.0035). When only women for whom telephone numbers were available were analyzed, attendance was even better (35.5% vs 29.7%, p=0.0004). In the follow-up, 278 of 404 women were actually surveyed. Of those, 33% stated that telephone counseling had influenced their decision, 56% stated that they had undergone screening mammography, and 77% agreed that personal telephone counseling should be used routinely to encourage nonresponders to go for screening.
Conclusions: Individual telephone counseling for nonresponders to a national program for breast cancer screening was well accepted by participants and effective.
Trial registration: This study is registered at the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12611000645954.
Copyright © 2011 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.