Beliefs and mammography screening

Am J Prev Med. Nov-Dec 1997;13(6):439-43.


Introduction: Breast cancer is a leading form of preventable cancer among women in the United States. Despite improvements in mammography and other early detection techniques, special populations, including older and minority women, continue to experience high incidence and mortality rates. Knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs are ubiquitous constructs in preventive medicine, health behavior, and behavioral epidemiology. These constructs often are used to explain variation in health screening behavior. While all three have been examined in relation to mammography screening, concentration on the single category of beliefs and the relation between specific beliefs and mammography screening practices has remained largely uninvestigated.

Methods: Using logistic regression modeling, we examined the relationship between four individual beliefs and mammography screening in a cross-sectional study of 407 women.

Results: After we controlled for confounding factors in a multivariable analysis, belief in the efficacy of early detection in improving breast cancer outcome (odds ratio [OR] = 2.98; 95% confidence intervals [CI] = 1.62, 5.47) and perceived risk (OR = 0.49; 95% CI = 0.26, 0.94) were significantly associated with screening practice. Belief that mammography is dangerous (OR = 0.46; 95% CI = 0.18, 1.18) or painful (OR = 1.25; 95% CI = 0.75, 2.08) was not significantly associated with screening practice.

Conclusions: Information on the relationship between beliefs and screening practices may be used both to understand screening behaviors and to develop targeted strategies to improve mammography compliance.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Mammography / psychology*
  • Mammography / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged