Background: Rural women are less likely to receive screening mammography at recommended intervals. This study evaluated efforts to promote screening mammography among women in rural communities through community education interventions and low-cost mobile mammography van services.
Methods: Two matched sets of communities were identified in an isolated rural region. One area received community education programs in addition to the mammography van for 2 years; the second area received only the van services. The educational programs were designed using diagnostic research methods; they included recruitment of opinion leaders to organize small group breast screening education sessions, an information campaign using direct mail, and primary health care provider education.
Results: A household telephone survey conducted 6 months after completion of these programs indicated that mammography utilization and perceived mammography norms were higher among women in the Program area than among women in the Comparison area. Process data were consistent with these findings. Clinical examination and self-examination behaviors were not influenced by the programs.
Conclusions: This study showed that well-focused educational interventions for rural women can increase utilization of screening mammography when access and cost barriers also are reduced.