Does poor mental health explain socio-demographic gradients in breast cancer screening uptake? A population-based study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Research from the USA indicates disparities in breast cancer screening uptake for women with poor mental health. However, no attempt has been made to examine the contribution of poor mental health to socio-demographic variations in breast screening uptake. The current study aims to examine the impact of self-reported chronic poor mental health on attendance at breast screening in the UK, and to what extent this explains socio-demographic inequalities in screening uptake.

METHODS: Breast screening records were linked to 2011 Census records within the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study. This identified a cohort of 57 328 women who were followed through one 3-year screening cycle of the National Health Service Breast Screening Programme. Information on mental health status, in addition to other individual and household-level attributes, was derived from the 2011 Census. Logistic regression was employed to calculate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of attendance at screening.

RESULTS: 10.7% of women in the cohort reported poor mental health, and in fully adjusted analyses, these individuals were 23% less likely to attend breast screening (OR 0.77; 95% CI 0.73-0.82). Although poor mental health was a strong predictor of screening uptake, it did not explain the observed inequalities in uptake by socio-economic status, marital status, or area of residence.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides novel evidence of inequalities in breast screening uptake for women with chronic poor mental health in the UK. Targeted interventions are necessary to ensure equitable screening access and to enhance overall mortality benefit.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean journal of public health
Early online date13 Dec 2019
Publication statusEarly online date - 13 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Public Health Association. All rights reserved.


  • NILS
  • Record-linkage
  • Mental Illness
  • Breast Screening


Dive into the research topics of 'Does poor mental health explain socio-demographic gradients in breast cancer screening uptake? A population-based study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this