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Most recent mammography recommendations confuse public
Date:4/6/2011

San Diego, CA, April 6, 2011 When the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), an independent panel of experts in primary care and prevention, released its recommendations on mammography screenings for US women on November 16, 2009, there was immediate and considerable controversy. In a study published in the May 2011 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, investigators report that these new recommendations confused women (30.0%) more than they helped them understand when to get a mammogram (6.2%). Confusion was greatest among women aged 40-49 years and women who had never had a mammogram or who had one more than 2 years ago.

The USPSTF announcement included three sets of recommendations for women aged 40-49, 50-74 and 75 and over. Investigators from RTI International (Bethesda, MD, and Research Triangle Park, NC) assessed the volume and framing of the public discourse around the mammography recommendations to determine if women were knowledgeable about the new recommendations.

According to Linda B. Squiers, PhD, senior health communication analyst, RTI, Bethesda, MD, and her co-authors, results from this study will allow public health professionals to understand how the USPSTF's 2009 mammography screening recommendations were discussed in the media and whether women understood the reason for the debate and the new recommendations approximately one month after their release. Media coverage of the new recommendations peaked immediately following their release and was unbalanced. The majority of news articles and social media posts were unsupportive of the recommendations. The new recommendations were released during the heated debate about healthcare reform legislation, so it is not surprising that they were portrayed by some as an example of how the Obama administration planned to ration health care if the legislation passed.

RTI researchers analyzed news reports and social media posts around the time of t
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Contact: AJPM Editorial Office
eAJPM@ucsd.edu
858-534-9340
Elsevier Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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