National Cancer Institute Home at the National Institutes of Health | www.cancer.gov

Publication Abstract

Authors: Olsson P, Armelius K, Nordahl G, Lenner P, Westman G

Title: Women with false positive screening mammograms: how do they cope?

Journal: J Med Screen 6(2):89-93

Date: 1999

Abstract: OBJECTIVES: To assess the long term psychological impact on women who were recalled for further investigation after mammography screening and to find any factors that might predict coping ability in order to identify those subjects who require additional support at an earlier stage. SETTING: Counties of Västerbotten and Västernorrland, Sweden. METHODS: A prospective design was used in which 252 recalled women completed questionnaires twice--once within a week of having received the all-clear and again at follow up six months later. A group of 1104 randomly selected, screen negative women were followed up in the same way for comparison. The questionnaire included the Psychological Consequences Questionnaire (PCQ) and basic sociodemographic data. The main outcome measure was the total score on the PCQ at six months. RESULTS: Of the 252 women, 235 (93%) completed both questionnaires. In the control group, 987 (89.4%) women responded. Six months after the all-clear, recalled women were still significantly more anxious (p < 0.001) than those who had been screened but not recalled. The strongest predictor of psychological distress at six months was the PCQ score at the first measurement. Other predictors were a low level of education, living in high density urban areas, and having only one child or no children at all. Widows appeared to cope better than other women. CONCLUSIONS: It is possible to define a group of women with false positive results who are already at risk of coping less effectively at the time of recall. Offering these women counselling or other types of support should be considered.

Last Modified: 03 Sep 2013