The relative effectiveness of three reminder letters on making and keeping mammogram appointments

Behav Med. Spring 1993;19(1):29-34. doi: 10.1080/08964289.1993.9937562.


One hundred fifty women who had previously had at least one mammogram were sent one of three prompt letters informing them that they were due for screening. The letters were either reassuring, anxiety provoking, or the standard hospital prompt. Based on a review of the literature, we hypothesized that the reassuring letter would be most effective in motivating women to schedule and keep appointments, the anxiety-provoking letter would produce an intermediate level of compliance, and the standard hospital letter would be least effective. Our hypothesis was partially supported. Overall, 45% of the women in the study scheduled mammogram appointments. This included 54% of those who received the reassuring letter, 42% of those who received the anxiety-provoking letter, and 38% of those who received the standard letter. Although the results were in the predicted direction, the results of a chi-square test indicated that differences among groups were not statistically significant. When the dependent measure was number of appointments kept, rather than scheduled, however, significantly more women who received the reassuring letter actually kept their appointments compared with those who received the standard hospital letter. Subsequent analyses suggested that having a family history of breast cancer, receiving a reassuring letter, and being older than 50 years were important factors in scheduling appointments.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Appointments and Schedules*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Correspondence as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography*
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Reminder Systems*