Publication Abstract

Authors: DeFrank JT, Rimer BK, Bowling JM, Earp JA, Breslau ES, Brewer NT

Title: Influence of false-positive mammography results on subsequent screening: do physician recommendations buffer negative effects?

Journal: J Med Screen 19(1):35-41

Date: 2012 Mar

Abstract: OBJECTIVE: Cancer screening guidelines often include discussion about the unintended negative consequences of routine screening. This prospective study examined effects of false-positive mammography results on women's adherence to subsequent breast cancer screening and psychological well-being. We also assessed whether barriers to screening exacerbated the effects of false-positive results. METHODS: We conducted secondary analyses of data from telephone interviews and medical claims records for 2406 insured women. The primary outcome was adherence to screening guidelines, defined as adherent (10-14 months), delayed (15-34 months), or no subsequent mammogram on record. RESULTS: About 8% of women reported that their most recent screening mammograms produced false-positive results. In the absence of self-reported advice from their physicians to be screened, women were more likely to have no subsequent mammograms on record if they received false-positive results than if they received normal results (18% vs. 7%, OR = 3.17, 95% CI = 1.30, 7.70). Receipt of false-positive results was not associated with this outcome for women who said their physicians had advised regular screening in the past year (7% vs. 10%, OR = 0.74, 95% CI = 0.38, 1.45). False-positive results were associated with greater breast cancer worry (P < .01), thinking more about the benefits of screening (P < .001), and belief that abnormal test results do not mean women have cancer (P < .01), regardless of physicians' screening recommendations. CONCLUSION: False-positive mammography results, coupled with reports that women's physicians did not advise regular screening, could lead to non-adherence to future screening. Abnormal mammograms that do not result in cancer diagnoses are opportunities for physicians to stress the importance of regular screening.