Psychological distress in U.S. women who have experienced false-positive mammograms

Ismail Jatoi, Kangmin Zhu, Mona Shah, William Lawrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background: In the United States, approximately 10.7% of all screening mammograms lead to a false-positive result, but the overall impact of false-positives on psychological well-being is poorly understood. Materials and methods: Data were analyzed from the 2000 U.S. National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the most recent national survey that included a cancer control module. Study subjects were 9,755 women who ever had a mammogram, of which 1,450 had experienced a false-positive result. Psychological distress was assessed using the validated K6 questionnaire and logistic regression was used to discern any association with previous false-positive mammograms. Results: In a multivariate analysis, women who had indicated a previous false-positive mammogram were more likely to report feeling sad (OR = 1.18, 95% CI, 1.03-1.35), restless (OR = 1.23, 95% CI, 1.08-1.40), worthless (OR = 1.27, 95% CI, 1.04-1.54), and finding that everything was an effort (OR = 1.27, 95% CI, 1.10-1.47). These women were also more likely to have seen a mental health professional in the 12 months preceding the survey (OR = 1.28, 95% CI, 1.03-1.58) and had a higher composite score on all items of the K6 scale (P < 0.0001), a reflection of increased psychological distress. Analyses by age and race revealed that, among women who had experienced false-positives, younger women were more likely to feel that everything was an effort, and blacks were more likely to feel restless. Conclusion: In a random sampling of the U.S. population, women who had previously experienced false-positive mammograms were more likely to report symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-200
Number of pages10
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • False-positives
  • Mammography
  • Psychological distress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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