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Eur J Cancer Prev. 1992 Jun;1(4):311-5.

Attitude or access: reasons for not attending mammography in Northern Ireland.

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Department of Public Health Medicine, Northern Health and Social Services Board, Ballymena.


Maximizing the uptake of mammography among the eligible population will be critical to the success of the national breast cancer screening programme. Although compliance may vary for different reasons from area to area, it has been suggested that making screening clinics more accessible may be an effective means of enhancing uptake. In the present study we undertook 600 interviews with women who had been invited for mammography to determine the main reasons given by women in Northern Ireland for not attending for mammography when invited, how these may have related to access factors and to discover their views on how the service might be improved. The most frequently cited reasons for non-attendance were related to feelings of indifference or ignorance of screening issues and to fear of pain or embarrassment. Although more non-attenders did not have access to private transport, few women (23/600) expressed a preference for more accessible clinics. The fact that non-attenders were more likely not to have had a recent cervical smear, adds weight to the notion that attitudes rather than access played the predominant role in influencing uptake in this sample. We have concluded that investment in flexible mobile screening units cannot replace the continued need for delivering effective advocacy to eligible women.

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