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Mammogram Motivator Study Finds … Um …

June 30, 2010
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging, Diagnostic Imaging, Practice Management
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What’s the most effective way to encourage women to get mammograms regularly? A) Reminders. B) Education/motivation. C) Counseling. D) All of the above. E) None of the above.

The correct answer, according to the results of a study published online this week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, is: F) We don’t know; we need to do more studies.

Sigh.

Sally W. Vernon, PhD, of the Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and colleagues examined 25 studies that reported estimates of repeat mammography screenings for both groups receiving interventions and control groups. The researchers organized the intervention strategies into three categories: reminders, education/motivation, and counseling.

Their conclusions: Interventions of any kind seemed to increase the percentage of repeat mammography screenings by only a small to moderate amount. Also, the studies were heterogeneous—in other words, their conclusions contradicted each other. The researchers were unable to say whether that was because no strategy or strategies seem to work consistently or because the studies and interventions were too different in structure, populations, or settings for them to be directly comparable. In addition, the researchers noted that many of the studies were more than 10 years old.

An accompanying editorial by Jeanne Mandelblatt, MD, director of the Cancer Control Program at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, and Diana Buist, PhD, senior investigator at the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, reflects the frustration that the study’s authors seem to feel.

The editorial suggests that some women may be deciding against mammographies because of publicity about misdiagnoses. It adds: “It could be reasonably argued that we should better spend our efforts in discovering better early detection tests rather than continuing to invest in getting a few more women to regularly use a flawed technology.”

Related seminar: Pittsburgh Breast Imaging Seminar

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