Study examines breast density policy’s effect on follow-up imaging

A new study funded by the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute in Virginia found that dense breast notification policies were associated with an increase in follow-up ultrasound.

Published in the journal Medical Care, Michael Horny, PhD, with Emory University School of Medicine, and colleagues retrospectively analyzed which characteristics of state-level breast density notification policies were linked to increased use of follow-up breast ultrasound.

The team looked at 13,481,554 mammogram screening procedures taken from the MarketScan Research database performed between 2007 and 2014. Women in the study were privately insured and lived in a state that enacted notification legislation during the study period.

Results showed breast density notification measures led to a 1.02 percent jump in breast ultrasound imaging 30 days after mammography screening.

Policy characteristics such as explicitly suggesting additional imaging and mandated coverage of supplemental imaging through insurance aided that increase, authors wrote. Additional policy features moderated the effect.

“The heterogeneous effect of state legislation with regard to dense breast tissue on screening mammography follow-up by ultrasound is likely explained by specific and unique characteristics of the unique legislative approaches taken by a variety of states,” authors concluded.