Psychological Outcomes After a False Positive Mammogram: Preliminary Evidence for Ethnic Differences Across Time.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of racial and ethnic health disparities (2016)


Adverse psychological consequences of screening mammography are well-documented for women who receive a false positive result. However, little is known about ethnic differences. To address this gap, we examine distress associated with an abnormal mammogram (results-related distress) and perceived lifetime risk of breast cancer (perceived risk) among Latinas and non-Latina White (NLW) women 3 months after receipt of a false positive result. A sample of 28 Latina and 27 NLW women who received an initial abnormal mammogram result and later, a definitive non-cancer diagnosis were recruited for this descriptive, longitudinal study. Women were interviewed twice: within 30 days and 3 months after a false positive result. Questionnaires included standard sociodemographic questions, the Impact of Events Scale-Revised, and two perceived breast cancer risk items. All participants experienced decreased distress 3 months after the initial results. Latinas experienced higher levels of distress, F(1,45) = 4.58, p = 0.04, and had a significant increase in perceived breast cancer risk over time, F(1,45) = 3.99, p = 0.05. Larger population-based studies are necessary to confirm ethnic differences in mental health consequences of false positive results. Given cultural emphases concerning respect for authority figures, healthcare professionals may be particularly helpful in working with Latinas to mitigate distress and clarify accurate perceptions of breast cancer risk through evidence-based practice.