Objective: Less than five per cent of eligible Jamaican women had mammograms in 2003. The sociocultural determinants and the perceptual barriers modulating screening behaviour in Jamaican women are unclear. We sought to investigate sociocultural effects, in particular, knowledge and fear of the procedure on mammographic screening behaviour in Jamaican women.
Method: One hundred and forty-seven women attending the breast imaging units at the University
Hospital of the West Indies and 127 attending Radiology West were interviewed to determine the factors relating to participation in mammographic screening. Knowledge level, deterring factors as well as the experience during mammography were recorded.
Results: The mean age ± SD of participants was 51 ± 10.4 years. Eighty-eight of the 274 women (32%) were having a mammogram for the first time. Of these, the major determinants of the mammographic experience were the expectation that the procedure would be painful (OR = 0.08, p < 0.001) and the pain intensity (OR = 1.4, p < 0.030) experienced during mammography. There were 188 women who had repeat mammograms. Seventy-five of these women had delayed mammography for greater than one year. There was a significant association between being late for mammography and the perception that a doctor’s referral was necessary (p < 0.001). The factors associated with improved mammographic experience were pain intensity (OR = 0.84, p < 0.04), interval status of previous mammography (OR = 2.24, p = 0.059) and knowing someone with breast cancer (OR = 0.35, p < 0.04). Although 97% of all women found mammography painful, only seven (2.5%) said pain would prevent a repeat mammogram.
Conclusions: Fear, pain during mammography, subjective indifference, inertia and reliance on physician referrals were identified as barriers to complying with mammographic screening guidelines.