Resistance to discontinuing breast cancer screening in older women: A qualitative study

Ashley J. Housten, Monique R. Pappadis, Shilpa Krishnan, Susan C. Weller, Sharon H. Giordano, Therese B. Bevers, Robert J. Volk, Diana S. Hoover

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: Screening mammography is associated with reduced breast cancer-specific mortality; however, among older women, evidence suggests that the potential harms of screening may outweigh the benefits. We used a qualitative approach to examine the willingness of older women from different racial/ethnic groups to discontinue breast cancer screening. Methods: Women ≥70 years of age who reported having a screening mammogram in the past 3 years and/or reported that they intended to continue screening in the future were recruited for in-depth interviews. Participants who intended to continue screening were asked to describe how the following hypothetical scenarios would impact a decision to discontinue screening: health concerns or limited life expectancy, a physician's recommendation to discontinue, reluctance to undergo treatment, and recommendations from experts or governmental panels to stop screening. Semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were audio-recorded. Data coding and analysis followed inductive and deductive approaches. Results: Regardless of the scenario, participants (n = 29) expressed a strong intention to continue screening. Based on the hypothetical physician recommendations, intentions to continue screening appeared to remain strong. They did not envision a change in their health status that would lead them to discontinue screening and were skeptical of expert/government recommendations. There were no differences observed according to age, race/ethnicity, or education. Conclusions: Among older women who planned to continue screening, intentions to continue breast cancer screening appear to be highly resilient and resistant to recommendations from physicians or expert/government panels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1635-1641
Number of pages7
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • aged
  • breast
  • cancer
  • cancer
  • cultural diversity
  • early detection of cancer
  • oncology
  • qualitative
  • race/ethnicity
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Oncology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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