It's the amount of thought that counts: when ambivalence contributes to mammography screening delay

Womens Health Issues. 2012 Mar;22(2):e189-94. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2011.08.008. Epub 2011 Nov 3.


Purpose: This study examines whether ambivalence toward mammography screening, as moderated by total amount of thought given to the reasons for and against getting mammograms at recommended intervals, predicts greater delay in obtaining subsequent screening mammograms.

Methods: A sample of 3,430 insured women with recent (within the last 8-9 months) screening mammograms completed telephone interviews as part of a 5-year intervention study to achieve sustained adherence to annual-interval mammography. Delay was assessed by the number of days between mammograms.

Results: Controlling for demographic factors and perceived screening barriers, days between mammograms increased as ambivalence and thought increased. Thought moderated ambivalence: Among women who were most ambivalent, women obtained mammograms 1 month earlier for each unit increase in thought.

Conclusion: Future studies should test innovative ways to resolve ambivalence and increase thought about consequences of getting mammograms as a strategy to promote mammography screening adherence.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • Breast Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Early Detection of Cancer / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Mammography / psychology
  • Mammography / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mass Screening / psychology
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • North Carolina
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Telephone
  • Thinking
  • Time Factors