The introduction of risk stratified screening into the NHS Breast Screening Programme: Views from British-Pakistani women

Victoria Woof, Helen Ruane, David French, Fiona Ulph, Nadeem Qureshi, Nasaim Khan, D Gareth Evans, Louise Donnelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: UK national guidelines suggest women at high-risk of breast cancer should be offered more frequent screening or preventative medications. Currently, only 1 in 6 high-risk women are identified. One route to identify more high-risk women is via multifactorial risk assessment as part of the UK’s NHS Breast Screening Programme (NHSBSP). As lower socioeconomic and minority ethnic populations continue to experience barriers to screening, it is important that any new service does not exacerbate issues further. To inform service development, this study explored views of women from underserved backgrounds regarding the introduction of risk stratification into the NHSBSP.

Methods: Nineteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with British-Pakistani women from low socioeconomic backgrounds from East Lancashire, UK. Fourteen interviews were conducted via an interpreter.

Results: Thematic analysis produced three themes. Attitudes toward risk awareness concerns the positive views women have toward the idea of receiving personalised breast cancer risk information. Anticipated barriers to accessibility emphasises the difficulties associated with women’s limited English skills for accessing information, and their I.T proficiency for completing an online risk assessment questionnaire. Acceptability of risk communication strategy highlights the diversity of opinion regarding the suitability of receiving risk results via letter, with the option for support from a healthcare professional deemed essential.

Conclusions: The idea of risk stratification was favourable amongst this underserved community. To avoid exacerbating inequities, this new service should provide information in multiple languages and modalities and offer women the opportunity to speak to a healthcare professional about risk. This service should also enable completion of personal risk information via paper questionnaires, as well as online.
Original languageEnglish
JournalB M C Cancer
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 12 May 2020


  • UK
  • risk stratified screening
  • breast cancer risk
  • underserved populations
  • British-Pakistani women
  • qualitative interviews


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