Breast density notifications leave many women in the dark, survey finds

They found that most women (80%) preferred to know their breast density and associated risks from providers, rather than letters. These findings were more common among non-Hispanic black women (85%) than among non-Hispanic white women (80%) and Asian women (72%). The opposite was true for women with low literacy, who preferred written notification to personal communication. Highly literate women most often preferred learning their results through an online portal.

The researchers noted that women with low literacy or those who do not speak English as their first language might prefer to have written notifications as a medium if they are unable to process verbal communications confidently.

“The explanations provided by the women made it clear that the written information gives them the opportunity to look up definitions of words they don’t understand, re-read the information and take the time to process it,” said explained the authors.

In interviews, many women described the notifications as impersonal, confusing and sometimes concerning. Many said they wanted to talk to a doctor about what high breast density meant for their health, but understood providers were “overworked and overwhelmed.”

“Multi-modal notification (for example, a letter with an educational brochure or links to online information, including visuals), and the ability to speak with a clinician to ask questions and receive information and advice customized, would meet more women’s needs than the single-mode DBN letters currently in use,” the experts concluded.

The full study can be viewed in the journal, Patient education and counseling.

More breast imaging content:

New AI tool accurately classifies breast density

Subjectivity remains a challenge for radiologists using BI-RADS 5 for breast density

Mayo Clinic offers new guidelines on additional screening of women with dense breasts

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