Experience with breast cancer, pre-screening perceived susceptibility and the psychological impact of screening

Pilvikki Absetz, Arja R Aro, Stephen R Sutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This prospective study examined whether the psychological impact of organized mammography screening is influenced by women's pre-existing experience with breast cancer and perceived susceptibility (PS) to the disease. From a target population of 16,886, a random sample of women with a normal screening finding and all women with a false positive or a benign biopsy finding were included (N=1942). Data were collected with postal questionnaires 1-month before screening invitation and 2 and 12 months after screening. Response rate was 63% at baseline; 86, and 80% of the baseline participants responded to the follow-ups. Psychological impact was measured as anxiety (STAI-S), depression (BDI), health-related concerns (IAS), and breast cancer-specific beliefs and concerns. Data was analyzed with repeated measures analyses of variance, with estimates of effect size based on Eta-squared. Women with breast cancer experience had higher risk perception already before screening invitation; after screening they were also more distressed. Women with high PS were more distressed than women with low PS also at pre-invitation. The distress was not alleviated by screening, but instead remained even after normal mammograms. Experience and PS did not influence responses to different screening findings. Of the finding groups, false positives experienced most adverse effects: their risk perception increased and they reported most post-screening breast cancer-specific concerns. Furthermore, they became more frequent in breast self-examination (BSE) despite a simultaneous decrease in BSE self-efficacy. Our findings suggest that women with high PS and women with false positive screening finding may need individualized counseling and follow-up as much as women with a family history of breast cancer. Besides medical risk factors, women's own perceptions of susceptibility should be discussed during the screening process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-318
Number of pages14
JournalPsycho-Oncology
Volume12
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2003
Externally publishedYes
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Anxiety/psychology
  • Breast Neoplasms/prevention & control
  • Depression/psychology
  • Disease Susceptibility/psychology
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography/psychology
  • Mass Screening/psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sampling Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

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