Understanding the use of breast cancer screening services by women with intellectual disabilities

Sheena G. Sullivan, Linda M. Slack-Smith, Rafat Hussain

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39 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The uptake of mammography for breast cancer screening is considerably lower among women with intellectual disability than for women in the general population. The purpose of the present study was to investigate carer perceptions of barriers and enablers to mammography use by these women. Methods: To determine the reasons why women with intellectual disability are not utilising screening services, a series of focus groups were held with social trainers working in accommodation provided for people with intellectual disability. Results: The major themes id entified include d the need for a medical referral or invitation from the mammography service to motivate people to attend; the belief that many women with intellectual disability would not understand the procedure or why it needs to be done and therefore would experience fear and anxiety to a greater extent than women in the general population; and that physical disabilities comorbid in many of the women would limit their ability to be adequately accommodated by the machines used to take a mammogram. Conclusions: The social trainers a greed that many of the barriers to screening would be difficult to overcome and supported alternative strategies to mammography, such as clinical breast examination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-405
Number of pages8
JournalSozial- und Praeventivmedizin
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Australia
  • Intellectual disability
  • Mammography
  • Preventive medicine

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