Using Tailored Messages to Target Overuse of Low-Value Breast Cancer Care in Older Women

J Surg Res. 2022 Feb;270:503-512. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2021.10.005. Epub 2021 Nov 19.


Background: National recommendations allow for the omission of sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) and post-lumpectomy radiotherapy in women ≥ 70 y/o with early-stage, hormone-receptor positive invasive breast cancer, but these therapies remain common. Previous work demonstrates an individual's maximizing-minimizing trait-an inherent preference for more or less medical care-may influence the preference for low-value care.

Materials and methods: We recruited an equal number of women ≥ 70 yrs who were maximizers, minimizers, or neutral based on a validated measure between September 2020 and November 2020. Participants were presented a hypothetical breast cancer diagnosis before randomization to one of three follow-up messages: maximizer-tailored, minimizer-tailored, or neutral. Tailored messaging aimed to redirect maximizers and minimizers toward declining SLNB and radiotherapy. The main outcome measure was predicted probability of choosing SLNB or radiotherapy.

Results: The final analytical sample (n = 1600) was 515 maximizers (32%), 535 neutral (33%) and 550 (34%) minimizers. Higher maximizing tendency positively correlated with electing both SLNB and radiotherapy on logistic regression (P < 0.01). Any tailoring (maximizer- or minimizer-tailored) reduced preference for SLNB in maximizing and neutral women but had no effect in minimizing women. Tailoring had no impact on radiotherapy decision, except for an increased probability of minimizers electing radiotherapy when presented with maximizer-tailored messaging.

Conclusions: Maximizing-minimizing tendencies are associated with treatment preferences among women facing a hypothetical breast cancer diagnosis. Targeted messaging may facilitate avoidance of low-value breast cancer care, particularly for SLNB.

Keywords: Breast cancer; De-implementation; Maximizer; Minimizer; Older women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Axilla / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymph Node Excision
  • Mastectomy, Segmental
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy