Disability as a predictor of breast cancer screening uptake: A population-based study of 57,328 women

Emma Ross, Aideen Maguire, Michael Donnelly, Adrian Mairs, Clare Hall, Dermot O'Reilly

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Despite a growing body of evidence suggesting inequalities in breast cancer screening uptake in the United States for women with disabilities, few attempts have been made to examine whether this association applies to the United Kingdom. We conducted the first population-wide study investigating the impact of disability on uptake of breast cancer screening in Northern Ireland.

Breast screening records extracted from the National Breast Screening System were linked to the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study. This identified a cohort of 57,328 women who were followed through one complete three-year screening cycle of the National Health Service Breast Screening Programme in Northern Ireland. The presence of disability was identified from responses to the 2011 Census.

Within this cohort, 35.8% of women reported having at least one chronic disability, and these individuals were 7% less likely to attend compared with those with no disability (odds ratio 0.93; 95% confidence interval 0.89–0.98). Variation in the degree of disparity observed was evident according to the type and number of comorbid disabilities examined.

This is the first population-wide study in Northern Ireland to identify disparities in breast screening uptake for women with chronic disabilities, in particular, those with multimorbidity. This is of particular concern, given the projected rise in the prevalence of disability associated with the ageing population.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Medical Screening
Early online date21 Nov 2019
Publication statusEarly online date - 21 Nov 2019


  • NILS
  • Record Linkage
  • Disability
  • Breast Screening
  • Breast cancer


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