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California Physicians Need More Education About Breast Density


Almost half of primary care physicians in California are unaware of the state’s Breast Density Notification Law, which was enacted in 2013.

Many primary care clinicians in California are not familiar with the California Breast Density Notification Law and many do not feel comfortable answering breast density-related patient questions, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Researchers from the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, in Sacramento performed an online survey to determine the level of awareness of the California Breast Density Notification Law and its impact on primary care practice.

A total of 174 online surveys were distributed to internal medicine, family medicine, and obstetric-gynecology outpatient physicians within a single primary network system 10 months after the law took effect. The 10-question survey comprised yes/no, multiple-choice, and Likert-style questions.

Seventy-seven physicians responded:

• Internal medicine: 39%

• Family medicine: 47%

• Obstetrics-gynecology: 9%

“Roughly half of those surveyed (49 percent) reported no knowledge of the breast density notification legislation,” the authors wrote. “Only 32 percent of respondents noted an increase in patient levels of concern about breast density compared to prior years.”

In response to questions about their comfort levels when responding to questions about breast density, 55% responded that they were “somewhat comfortable,” 12% said they were “not comfortable,” and 32% had referred patients to a breast health clinic for these discussions. “A total of 75 percent of those surveyed would be interested in more specific education on the subject,” the authors added.

The researchers concluded that almost half of primary care physicians in California were not aware of the new breast density notification law and many were not comfortable discussing and answering patient about breast density.

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