Mammogram Due? Don't Wait on Reminder
Personalized Mailings May Not Improve Mammography Rates
Feb. 26, 2008 -- A new study shows
that even when women get personalized mailings about breast cancer screening,
they may not be more motivated to get mammography.
The study included 8,444 female veterans aged 52 and older, most of whom have private
First, the women completed a survey about their mammography history. Then
they were divided into three groups.
One group of women got a packet of information about mammography in the mail
about two months after completing the survey.
A second group of women also received a packet of mammography
information, along with a note telling them when they were due for their next
mammogram, and a newsletter addressing any concerns about mammography
(such as pain
and cost) that they had noted in the survey.
For comparison, the third group of women didn't get any follow-up
The study lasted for about three years. During that time, about 80% of the women
who participated in follow-up surveys reported getting at least one
mammogram. But what the researchers were really interested in was whether
mailing women personalized mammography information and mammogram reminders
boosted follow-up routine mammograms 12 to 15 months later.
That strategy didn't work. All three groups had similar rates of follow-up
After reviewing other studies, the researchers concluded that the findings
"provide little support for an additional benefit of using tailored
interventions, either mailed or by telephone, to increase regular mammography
It's not clear why the personalized mammography intervention didn't work, or
whether mammogram rates were so high in all three groups that there was little
room for improvement.
Sally Vernon, PhD, and colleagues report the results in the March 5 edition
of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Vernon works in Houston
for the health promotion and behavioral sciences department of the University
of Texas School of Public Health.