Utah among the three lowest states for mammograms, USU UWLP reports

Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for women in Utah. Mammography has been shown to reduce breast cancer mortality and is a vital screening tool that can increase the chances of early diagnosis and treatment. However, not all women receive screening according to recommended guidelines, and data from the latest Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey placed Utah among the three lowest states for breast cancer screening in women ages 4 and older. 40 years. The average screening rate for Utah was 6.3% lower than the average of 69% for US women.

The Utah Women & Leadership Project (UWLP) recently updated a 2017 mammography research report, which identified numerous reasons why Utah women may not adhere to screening recommendations, including time limits, family size, education, health literacy level, and lack of a primary care provider.

According to Susan Madsen, founding director of UWLP, these factors are still relevant in 2023, along with other factors, including insurance coverage and financial concerns, mammography guidelines and the impacts of COVID.

“Hopefully reviewing past information will help us as we move forward,” he said. “Understanding these factors along with education can help Utah women receive this valuable test at higher rates.”

The cost of and access to affordable health insurance influences whether individuals receive the health care they need. A 2019 study suggested that barriers to screening may be unique across different income level groups, even when women have health insurance.

“Women with higher income levels were more likely to list forgetting to make an appointment or lack of time as barriers, in contrast to women with lower incomes, who cited financial hardship and lack of screening recommendations from part of a doctor as most common obstacles”. said Chloe Bhowmick, clinical psychologist, UWLP researcher and lead author of the report.

Discrepancies between mammography guidelines are another obstacle. Conflicting messages about the frequency of mammograms for different ages can cause confusion and affect a woman’s likelihood of scheduling a mammogram.

Additionally, COVID-19 had a significant impact on routine care and preventive screenings in 2020 and 2021, as many healthcare workers reduced access to non-essential services to ensure capacity for COVID-19 patients.

“Mammography, considered outpatient and not emergency, has experienced one of the biggest declines in services,” Bhowmick said. “Fortunately, many medical centers were able to return to comparable mammogram rates by mid-2020. However, changing occupations during the pandemic, such as losing a job or losing health insurance, can still affect the ability to some women to receive a mammogram in the future, and the pandemic may cause subtle but lingering effects on mammogram rates.

Other factors that may discourage mammograms include lack of transportation and geographic accessibility, cultural norms, prioritizing work and family obligations, lack of appointment childcare, lack of knowledge about mammography, lack of trust in the system health care, concern about pain during screening, and fear of being diagnosed.

“There are several steps state and local systems can take to help drive increased mammogram rates,” said Sadie Wilde, USU Extension assistant professor, UWLP research associate, and author of the report. “One step is to have consistent guidelines and goals so women clearly understand how often they should have a mammogram. In addition, Utah’s health and insurance systems can help increase screening rates by placing patient alerts in electronic record systems. In addition, employers can implement wellness and work schedule flexibility programs that encourage employees to complete screenings based on recommended age and attendance guidelines.

Wilde said employer support could significantly impact cancer screening rates by not only removing scheduling conflicts and financial constraints, but reducing the cultural stigma around these routine procedures.

THE Utah Comprehensive Cancer Control Program and the Utah Cancer Action Network developed a “Utah Comprehensive Cancer Prevention and Control Plan 2021-2025” to prevent cancer and support cancer survivors. It outlines four priorities to help Utah be cancer-free: 1) increase food security, 2) create healthy neighborhood environments, 3) improve access to high-quality health care services, and 4) reduce financial toxicity among cancer survivors. Utah cancer.

Madsen said health and government organizations should continue to support public awareness campaigns in Utah, as a recent study showed a significant 180.1 percent increase in the volume of related Internet searches related to Breast Cancer Awareness Month .

“Plus, organizations can schedule public awareness programs throughout the year instead of focusing solely on campaigning during Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” she said. “Improved access to mammography and other key health care resources will strengthen women’s positive impact in communities and the state.”

To see the full report with references, Click here. For more information about UWLP programs and projects, visit utwomen.org.

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