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

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 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)
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 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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    Housten, A. J., Pappadis, M., Krishnan, S., Weller, S., Giordano, S. H., Bevers, T. B., Volk, R. J., & Hoover, D. S. (Accepted/In press). Resistance to discontinuing breast cancer screening in older women: A qualitative study. Psycho-Oncology.