Mammography screening for women under 50: women's response to medical controversy and changing practice guidelines

Womens Health. Fall 1998;4(3):169-97.


The controversy concerning the efficacy of mammography screening for reducing breast cancer mortality among women aged 40 to 49 has continued throughout much of this decade. We examined the impact of this controversy on a community sample of women aged 40 to 60 in 2 data collections (n = 146 and n = 51, respectively), each time following a critical point in the controversy. At initial data collection, only 19% of women identified the specific nature of the debate. Women reported that physicians did not recommend waiting to age 50 to be screened. The women supported screening in the 40s. Those in their 40s intended to continue screening. At 2nd data collection, women showed awareness of inaccuracies in mammography screening, but intended to continue screening nonetheless. These results suggest that health care consumers will not easily relinquish medical innovations that previously have been integrated into usual health care.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Mammography*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Selection*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • United States