Women don’t want to wait for their mammogram results, study finds

When it comes to receiving the results of a screening mammogram, timing matters. Most women prefer to see their results on a Friday even if their mammogram was abnormal—and within 24 hours, according to recent a survey study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Surveying more than 2,200 women 18 years or older who came into one of two academic breast imaging centers for a screening mammogram revealed more than 85 percent preferred to view their results on a Friday. The end of the week was chosen even if they couldn’t get in for a follow-up until the next week.

A majority did indicate a preference for scheduling their follow-up appointment within 1 or 2 days.

More than 70 percent of respondents wanted their results within 48 hours. Black patients were more likely to want their results within 24 hours, while white patients were willing to wait longer.

Timing was not the only important variable, however. More than 50 percent surveyed preferred to hear their results over the phone, followed by a letter, text message and email.

“These suggestions can help clinics and providers make changes to how they communicate screening mammogram results,” wrote Biren A. Shah, MD, of Virginia Commonwealth University Health System in Richmond, and colleagues. “The strong preference of patients receiving their screening mammogram results more promptly should help trigger alternative methods toward improving communication between the radiologist and the patient.”

Besides the obvious preferences in wait times, the results of the survey can provide cancer screening centers valuable insight into how to better serve their patients. And breast imaging radiologists should be the clinicians leading this change, Shah et al. wrote.

“Although many breast centers may be unable to meet the service demands expected by patients, having an educated and well-organized support staff to help provide these services to the patient would allow the radiologist to be able to focus on providing expert image interpretation and the best quality of patient care,” the authors wrote. “In turn, this would enhance patient care and satisfaction as well as improve work efficiency.”