Mammography screening from the perspective of quality of life: a review of the literature


Ms Bjørg Hafslund, Bergen University College, PO Box 7030, N-5020 Bergen, Norway.


Aims:  The purpose of this literature review was to explore how women attending a national mammography screening programme reacted to the screening process on quality of life (QoL). The research question was what implications regarding true-negative results and false-positive results from mammography screening were found among women?

Quality of life including life domains as psychological, physical and social was the theoretical reference in the study.

Method:  Guided by the concept of QoL on mammography screening a database search of Medline, Cinahl and Cochrane was carried out. Search terms such as QoL, anxiety and mammography have been used.

Findings:  A review of studies between 1995 and 2007 showed that the implications regarding a negative result were less than those regarding false-positive one. It was found that women with negative results after mammography screening experience minor negative psychological consequences, and some women have even measured less anxiety following mammography than before because of the reassurance given by a clear negative result.

False-positive result and recalls were a problem for many women. The process following recalls do affect women emotionally, decrease their wellbeing and QoL for weeks and even months.

Conclusion:  Future research should be directed at measuring the short-term outcomes in representative populations for whom screening and prevention are indicated. This knowledge would be useful for the organisation of the mammography programmes and for communication with the general population, the women coming for screening and those who do not attend.