Psychological consequences of false-positive screening mammograms in the UK

Bond, Mary, Pavey, Toby, Welch, Karen, Cooper, Chris, Garside, Ruth, Dean, Sarah, & Hyde, Christopher J. (2013) Psychological consequences of false-positive screening mammograms in the UK. Evidence-Based Medicine, 18(2), pp. 54-61.

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  • Objectives

To identify the psychological effects of false-positive screening mammograms in the UK.

  • Methods

Systematic review of all controlled studies and qualitative studies of women with a false-positive screening mammogram. The control group participants had normal mammograms. All psychological outcomes including returning for routine screening were permitted. All studies had a narrative synthesis.

  • Results

The searches returned seven includable studies (7/4423). Heterogeneity was such that meta-analysis was not possible. Studies using disease-specific measures found that, compared to normal results, there could be enduring psychological distress that lasted up to 3 years; the level of distress was related to the degree of invasiveness of the assessment. At 3 years the relative risks were, further mammography, 1.28 (95% CI 0.82 to 2.00), fine needle aspiration 1.80 (95% CI 1.17 to 2.77), biopsy 2.07 (95% CI 1.22 to 3.52) and early recall 1.82 (95% CI 1.22 to 2.72). Studies that used generic measures of anxiety and depression found no such impact up to 3 months after screening. Evidence suggests that women with false-positive mammograms have an increased likelihood of failing to reattend for routine screening, relative risk 0.97 (95% CI 0.96 to 0.98) compared with women with normal mammograms.

  • Conclusions

Having a false-positive screening mammogram can cause breast cancer-specific distress for up to 3 years. The degree of distress is related to the invasiveness of the assessment. Women with false-positive mammograms are less likely to return for routine assessment than those with normal ones.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 92476
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1136/eb-2012-100608
ISSN: 1356-5524
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Deposited On: 01 Feb 2016 03:46
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2017 23:03

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