A randomised trial of the effect of postal reminders on attendance for breast screening

Allgood, P. et al. British Journal of Cancer (2016) 114, 171–176

Image source: Flickr

Background: Some women make an informed choice not to attend breast screening, whereas others may have forgotten about the appointment. We report on a randomised trial that investigates whether a reminder letter affects attendance.

Methods: Women scheduled for a breast screening appointment were randomised to either receive a reminder letter a few days before their breast screening appointment in addition to the standard invitation letter (intervention) or not (control). The primary outcome was attendance within 30 days of the first offered appointment. Secondary outcomes were attendance within 90 and 180 days.

Results: In all, 11383 (49.9%) women were randomised to the intervention and 11445 (50.1%) to the control. In the intervention arm, 7759 (68.2%) attended within 30 days of the first offered appointment compared with 7349 (64.2%) in the control arm. This difference was significant (P<0.001). The odds ratio (OR) (95% confidence interval) for the primary end point was 1.19 (1.13–1.26). This was not significantly affected by age, socioeconomic status or type of screen (prevalent or incident). Secondary endpoint analyses supported these results. Results did differ, however, between the different centres studied.

 Conclusions: This study found that postal reminders increase breast screening uptake, and could be practicable to implement in the NHS Breast Screening Programme.

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