Women's attitudes to screening after participation in the National Breast Screening Study. A questionnaire survey

Cancer. 1990 Apr 1;65(7):1663-9. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(19900401)65:7<1663::aid-cncr2820650735>3.0.co;2-a.


A self-administered questionnaire study exploring women's attitudes to breast screening after participation in the Canadian National Breast Screening Study (NBSS) achieved an 82% response rate. Of active respondents (AR) attending two to five screening examinations, 1582 had received annual mammography (MA) and physical examination (PE) of the breasts and 548 received annual PE alone. Of 139 dropouts after the first screening, 105 received MA and PE and 34 received PE alone. Dropout respondents (DR) were significantly less likely than AR to report receiving very prompt (46% versus 66%), very courteous (73% versus 92%), or very competent examinations (74% versus 95%). Although 35% of those allocated to PE expressed disappointment with PE allocation compared with 9% of those allocated to MA, fewer of those allocated PE were prepared to accept MA in the future than those allocated MA (59% versus 73%). Of those who had MA, 36% reported moderate and 9% extreme discomfort from mammography. Almost half of each subgroup--MA allocations, PE allocations, and DR--preferred mammography every 2 to 3 years and 30% preferred mammography restricted to diagnostic purposes. Only 5% of AR reported anxiety after screening. National Breast Screening Study participation was a positive experience for 93%. An intention to do breast self-examination (BSE) was reported by 89% of AR and 79% of DR. Forgetfulness was a major impediment to BSE. Disincentives for screening were excessive distance to center, painful mammography, fear of radiation, lack of time, and preference for own physician. Convenient location, punctual appointments, and courteous and supportive staff should enhance screening compliance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Breast
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography / psychology
  • Mass Screening / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Palpation
  • Patient Compliance
  • Physical Examination
  • Self Care
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States