Aims: A survey was undertaken to find out why only 46% of eligible women had taken the opportunity to join the South Canterbury mammography screening programme in the first 22 months of operation.
Methods: One hundred and sixty seven randomly chosen women, aged between 40 and 65 years, who had not had a mammogram, were questioned about their knowledge of, and attitudes to, mammography screening.
Results: The answers showed that apathy, lack of concern and lack of perceived need were reasons quoted for nonattendance by almost half of respondents. Other important barriers to mammography screening were: (1) fear of a positive screen result (admitted by 39%); (2) lack of encouragement by some general practitioners (quoted by 19%); and (3) lack of knowledge about screening mammography (one third did not know that mammography was a screening and not just a diagnostic procedure). The current cost is a major deterrent for many unscreened women with only 28% saying they would be willing to pay more than $55.00, but only 10% unwilling to pay at all and only 5% quoting cost as their reason for nonattendance.
Conclusion: Strategies to improve attendance are suggested.