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Reducing inequalities by supporting individuals to make informed decisions about accepting their breast screening invitations.

OBJECTIVES: Individuals from deprived areas are less likely to attend breast screening. Inequalities in the coverage of breast screening are associated with poorer cancer outcomes. Individuals who have a positive first experience are more likely to attend subsequent mammograms. This work evaluates the provision of an additional telephone call to individuals who have never attended breast screening, to establish whether this increases attendance.

SETTING AND METHODS: 1423 patients from four general practitioner practices within socially deprived areas of National Health Service Tayside (UK) comprised the study population. In addition to their standard appointment letter, individuals were to receive a call at least 24 h prior to their appointment. The call identified barriers to screening, and offered a supportive, problem-solving approach to overcoming these barriers. Data collected included: age, Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, first-time invite or previous non-attender, if contactable, duration of call, number of days prior to appointment, and confirmation appointment letter was received. The primary outcome was attendance at the screening.

RESULTS: Contact by phone was made with 678 (47.6%) of the study population. Of those, 483 (71.2%) attended their appointment, 122 (18%) cancelled and 73 (10.8%) did not attend (DNA), versus 344 (46.2%) attending, 34 (4.6%) cancelling and 367 (49.3%) not attending among those who were not able to be contacted. Those who received a call were more likely to attend their appointment and less likely to DNA compared to individuals not receiving the call.

CONCLUSION: The intervention is simple and low cost; results indicate that the additional call may increase attendance and reduce DNA appointments at breast screening.

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