Background: Although rates of mammography screening among women in the general population have been increasing they still fall short of national goals. This study evaluated the effects on rates of participation in mammography screening of obtaining risk factor information and providing general or personalized risk information through direct mailed correspondence.
Methods: Women enrollees in a health maintenance organization (N = 2,076), age 50 and above, were randomized to one of the following four groups: (a) no risk factor questionnaire + generic invitation, (b) no risk factor questionnaire + general risk invitation, (c) risk factor questionnaire + general risk invitation, and (d) risk factor questionnaire + personal risk invitation. Computerized visit records were monitored for 12 months following a mailed invitation to assess whether a mammogram had been obtained.
Results: Overall participation was 37.5% and the rate of participation did not differ significantly across groups (P = 0.26). Participation was related to age (P < 0.02), with rates highest for women ages 60-69 years (42.7%) compared with those for women ages 50-59 (35.5%) and those age 70+ (33.7%). Among women with a family history of breast cancer, the personalized risk invitation was associated with significantly higher participation compared with general risk invitation (66.7 versus 42.9%, respectively; P < 0.003).
Conclusions: Women with a family history of breast cancer are more likely to obtain a mammogram if that fact is reinforced as a risk factor. Research on environmental barriers to mammography screening may suggest alternative strategies for increasing participation.