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108 Long-term psychosocial consequences of breast cancer screening – a matched cohort study
  1. Emma Grundtvig Gram1,
  2. Volkert Dirk Siersma1,
  3. John Brandt Brodersen1,2
  1. 1Centre for General Practice, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. 2Primary Health Care Research Unit, Region Zealand, Denmark


Objectives Previous studies have shown that women receiving false-positive mammograms from screening experience significantly greater psychosocial consequences compared with normal results. These consequences have been found to persist in up to three years after final diagnosis. However, we do not know for how long these consequences are sustained as no study has previously assessed the psychosocial consequences in a longer perspective. The objective of this study is to examine whether psychosocial consequences from a false-positive screening mammography persist 12–14 year after the screening mammography.

Method A Danish cohort of 1308 women has been followed since their participation in screening mammography in 2004–05. These women have previously completed the condition-specific psychosocial 12-dimensional questionnaire Consequences of Screening – Breast Cancer (COS-BC) at 1, 3, 6, 12 and 36 months after screening. This study is a 12–14 year follow-up assessment of the psychosocial consequences measured with COS-BC. Sum-scores were compared across test Results normal, false positives and cancer. To estimate mean differences between screening groups, we used weighted and adjusted linear models with generalized estimating equations that account for differential attrition and correlated data from repeated measurements. Hereby, we were able to compare psychosocial consequences between groups and examine which domains are most dominating or relevant in a long-term perspective.

Results Compared to the three-year follow-up, most psychosocial consequences of false positives have subsided. False positives and cancer were responsive to the same scales and showed a dose-response association in which cancer were more affected than false positives compared to normal results. Thus, false positives and cancer were not significantly different from each other. Not all mean differences between cancer and false positives compared to normal results respectively were significant. However, we observed a trend of exclusively positive mean differences. This indicates that the false positives and cancer on average experience greater psychosocial consequences than normal results 12–14 years after screening.

Conclusions We found relatively small, thus persisting psychosocial consequences from false-positive screening mammograms. Future qualitative studies might be able to explain why and how women’s lives are still affected over a decade after the screening results.

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