July 14, 2009 (Portland, Ore.) A reminder program aimed at screening for breast cancer when it is most treatable boosted mammography rates by more than 17 percentage points, according to a new study by Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The program used electronic health records to identify women who would soon be due for a mammogram and reached out to them via postcards, automated voice messages and personal phone calls.
The study of 35,000 Kaiser Permanente members is the largest to test a reminder program involving this three-pronged approach. By the second year of the program in 2008, mammography rates jumped from 63 to more than 80 percent among women aged 50-69.
"We know mammograms are effective, but too many women put them off, even when they have health insurance," said lead author Adrianne Feldstein, MD, MS, an investigator at Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore., and a practicing physician. "This study is the first to show that these reminder programs can be effective in such a large group of women. If we could improve the country's mammography rate by the same amount, we could detect as many as 25,000 additional cases of breast cancer each year."
"Our study shows that a reminder program can spark a big improvement in a short amount of time," said study co-author Nancy Perrin, Ph.D., senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore. "Automated reminder programs make it more convenient for people to focus on staying healthy by getting the screenings they need."
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, with one in eight developing breast cancer and 46,000 dying from it annually. Although regular mammograms can reduce breast cancer deaths by more than 30 percent and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screenings eve
|Contact: Emily Schwartz|