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Breast screening in NSW, Australia: predictors of non-attendance and irregular attendance

By Minh Vu, Kees van Gool, Elizabeth Savage, Marion Haas and Stephen Birch


BreastScreen Australia provides free mammography services to women in the target age group of 50 to 69 years. The program uses a variety of measures to recruit women to the service and, subsequently, encourage them to screen at two year intervals. One of the stated aims of the program is to provide equitable access to all women in the target age group. This paper analyses the extent to which systematic variation can be observed amongst women in terms of their screening behaviour, focusing on those who have never screened or are irregular screeners. Data on self reported utilisation of breast screening services was obtained from the 2002/04 NSW Health Surveys. A multinomial logit (MNL) model was used to examine the role of socioeconomic status, cultural background, education and region of residence on breast screening behaviour. The results show that lower income is associated with a woman never screening or screening irregularly. Region of residence is an important predictor of screening behaviour, although the degree of remoteness was not influential in determining participation. A higher number of hours worked was associated with women being more likely to screen irregularly. These results provide evidence of persistent and systematic variation in screening uptake and regular participation. The results also point towards targeted recruitment and retainment strategies that may provide the greatest potential benefits.breast screening, mammography, NSW, Australia

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