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CitationIntermittent attendance at breast cancer screening. 2013, 2 (2):e14 J Public Health Res
JournalJournal of public health research
AbstractTo determine why women skip rounds and factors influencing return of previous non attenders (PNAs) to breast screening.
Retrospective, quantitative, structured questionnaire posted to 2500 women. First PNAs did not attend their first screening appointment in 2007/2008 but then attended in 2010; First Controls first attended in 2010 without missed previous appointments. Women who attended screening in 2006 or earlier then skipped a round but returned in 2010 were Subsequent PNAs; Subsequent Controls attended all appointments.
More First Controls than First PNAs had family history of cancer (72.7% vs 63.2%; P=0.003); breast cancer (31.3% vs 24.8%; P=0.04). More PNAs lived rurally; more First PNAs had 3rd level education (33.2% vs 23.6%; P=0.002) and fewer had private insurance than First Controls (57.7% vs 64.8%; P=0.04). Excellent/good health was reported in First PNAs and First Controls (82.9% vs 83.2%), but fewer Subsequent PNAs than Subsequent Controls (72.7% vs 84.9%; P=0.000). Common considerations at time of missed appointment were had mammogram elsewhere (33% First PNA) and postponed to next round (16% First PNA, 18.8% Subsequent PNA). Considerations when returning to screening were similar for First PNAs and Subsequent PNAs: I am older (35.4%, 29.6%), I made sure I remembered (29%, 23.6%), could reschedule (17.6%, 20.6%), illness of more concern (16.5%, 19%). More First PNAs stated my family/friends advised (22.3% vs 15.2%) or my GP (12.6% vs 4.6%) advised me to attend, heard good things about BreastCheck (28.8% vs 13.6%).
Intermittent attenders do not fit socio-demographic patterns of non-attenders; GP recommendation and word of mouth were important in women's return to screening. Fear and anxiety seem to act as a screening facilitator rather than an inhibitor. Significance for public healthAll breast cancer screening programmes strive to achieve and maintain a high level of attendance, as this is essential to reduce breast cancer mortality, together with cancer detection. While non-attendance has been widely studied, little is known about intermittent attenders. It is unclear why a woman chooses not to attend her breast screening appointment but then decides to respond positively to screening invitation two or more years later. The literature identifies many reasons why some women choose not to attend; but this study distinguishes those who then change their mind and return to screening. This study explores a sub-set of non-attenders which have, to date, been largely ignored, or grouped with people who never attend. This study will inform those struggling with non-attendance in their population based health programmes and will help to tackle the problem of non-attendance, which has adverse affects both economically and epidemiologically.