Predictors of Women's Awareness of the Benefits and Harms of Mammography Screening and Associations with Confusion, Ambivalence, and Information Seeking.

Research paper by Weijia W Shi, Rebekah H RH Nagler, Erika Franklin EF Fowler, Sarah E SE Gollust

Indexed on: 08 Nov '19Published on: 07 Nov '19Published in: Health communication


In recent years, there has been a shift toward promoting informed decision making for mammography screening for average-risk women in their 40s. Professional organizations such as the American Cancer Society and U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend that women weigh the potential benefits and harms of mammography prior to initiating screening. This decision-making process assumes that women are aware of both the benefits and harms of screening, yet little is known about the prevalence and antecedents of such awareness. Moreover, it is conceivable that women who are aware of both the benefits and harms may interpret this information as conflicting - which could be concerning, as researchers have documented adverse effects of exposure to conflicting health information in prior research. Using data from a population-based survey of U.S. women aged 30-59 ( = 557), the current study found that awareness of mammography's harms is relatively low compared to awareness of benefits. Health news exposure and interpersonal communication about health were associated with greater awareness of harms. In addition, women's awareness of both the benefits and harms was positively associated with confusion about breast cancer screening recommendations, ambivalence about getting a mammogram, and mammogram-related information seeking from online sources. Implications for cancer screening communication are discussed.