Education About Breast Cancer Screening Sparks Discussion

June 29, 2015

Clinicians were more likely to discuss breast cancer screening issues with patients following an educational intervention.

Clinicians who participated in an educational intervention of the risks and benefits of breast cancer screening were more likely to discuss screening options with their patients in the future, according to an article published in the Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare.

Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Birmingham Veterans Administration Medical Center, and the University of Central Florida College of Medicine in Orlando sought to determine the impact of a brief educational intervention on the knowledge and attitudes of clinicians regarding breast cancer screening.

The researchers provided before and after surveys to physicians and nurses who participated in sessions led by a physician expert in breast cancer screening, a general internist with 20 years of experience in educating health care professionals. The 30-minute academic detailing sessions took place between June 2012 and September 2012; all were led by the same expert and all participants received the same materials. The surveys were anonymous.

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines were reviewed, as well as the benefits and harms related to mammography screening. The expert also discussed risk assessment tools and counseling methods.

The outcomes for the study were:

Knowledge assessment of mammogram screening recommendations

Counseling practices on the risks and benefits of screening

Comfort level with counseling about screening

The results showed that participants had significant changes in their attitudes about breast cancer screening following the sessions:

Participants who:Before sessionsAfter sessions
Would screen all women aged 40–4982%9%
Would wait until women were 50 years old before beginning to screen12%38%
Would discuss patients’ preferences5%53%
Would discuss screening benefits*94%99%
Favored discussion of screening risks34%90%
Were comfortable discussing benefits**Mean of 3.8Mean of 4.5
Were comfortable discussing screening risksMean of 2.7Mean of 4.3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Not significant; **The comfort level measurements were assessed by using a Likert scale, for which 1=not comfortable and 5= very comfortable.

An educational intervention detailing recommendations and counseling methods affected the knowledge and attitudes about breast cancer screening,” the researchers concluded. “Participants expressed greater likelihood of discussing screening options in the future.”