Background: Although screening mammography rates have increased, even women with higher incomes and more formal education do not all obtain the exam. This study examined why a modest proportion of higher income/higher education women do not get screened and, conversely, why a small percentage of lower income/lower education women do receive screening.
Methods: Data were from the 1990 National Health Interview Survey of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. A total of 3,014 women, ages 40-75, were in the sample. Low-resource women had incomes of less than $20,000 and less than a high school diploma. High-resource women had incomes of $30,000 or more and at least some college education.
Results: Correlates of screening status were similar for both resource groups. Recency of Papanicolaou test, recency of clinical breast exam, and regular breast self-examination were associated with higher rates of screening. Four or more persons in a household were associated with lower rates. Among low-resource women, incomes of $10,000-$19,999 were associated with higher likelihood of screening. An income of $50,000 or more was associated with screening among high-resource women.
Conclusions: The fact that several variables were important for both resource groups suggests that targeted interventions could have benefits across a wide population. Nonetheless, in the high-resource group, 2-year rates never exceeded 80% and repeated screening never exceeded 60%. Rates for low-resource women were over 30% lower. Medical care utilization data did not differ between the two resource groups sufficiently to account for the discrepant rates. Improving screening rates in both resource groups remains a major challenge.