Attitudes of women in their forties toward the 2009 USPSTF mammogram guidelines: a randomized trial on the effects of media exposure

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2011 Jul;205(1):30.e1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2011.04.005. Epub 2011 Apr 14.


Objective: The objective of the study was to assess women's attitudes toward 2009 US Preventive Services Task Force mammography screening guideline changes and evaluate the role of media in shaping opinions.

Study design: Two hundred forty-nine women, aged 39-49 years, presenting for annual examinations randomized to read 1 of 2 articles, and survey completion comprised the design of the study.

Results: Eighty-eight percent overestimated the lifetime breast cancer (BrCa) risk. Eighty-nine percent want yearly mammograms in their 40s. Eighty-six percent felt the changes were unsafe, and even if the changes were doctor recommended, 84% would not delay screening until age 50 years. Those with a friend/relative with BrCa were more likely to want annual mammography in their forties (92% vs 77%, P = .001), and feel changes unsafe (91% vs 69%, P ≤ .0001). Participants with previous false-positive mammograms were less likely to accept doctor-recommended screening delay until age 50 years (8% vs 21%, P = .01).

Conclusion: Women overestimate BrCa risk. Skepticism of new mammogram guidelines exists, and is increased by exposure to negative media. Those with prior false-positive mammograms are less likely to accept changes.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Communications Media
  • Early Detection of Cancer / psychology
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Mammography / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Risk
  • Women / psychology*