What are the views of three key stakeholder groups on extending the breast screening interval for low-risk women? A secondary qualitative analysis

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INTRODUCTION: There is increasing interest in risk-stratified breast screening, whereby the prevention and early detection offers vary by a woman's estimated risk of breast cancer. To date, more focus has been directed towards high-risk screening pathways rather than considering women at lower risk, who may be eligible for extended screening intervals. This secondary data analysis aimed to compare the views of three key stakeholder groups on how extending screening intervals for low-risk women should be implemented and communicated as part of a national breast screening programme.

METHODS: Secondary data analysis of three qualitative studies exploring the views of distinct stakeholder groups was conducted. Interviews took place with 23 low-risk women (identified from the BC-Predict study) and 17 national screening figures, who were involved in policy-making and implementation. In addition, three focus groups and two interviews were conducted with 26 healthcare professionals. A multiperspective thematic analysis was conducted to identify similarities and differences between stakeholders.

FINDINGS: Three themes were produced: Questionable assumptions about negative consequences, highlighting how other stakeholders lack trust in how women are likely to understand extended screening intervals; Preserving the integrity of the programme, centring on decision-making and maintaining a positive reputation of breast screening and Negotiating a communication pathway highlighting communication expectations and public campaign importance.

CONCLUSIONS: A risk-stratified screening programme should consider how best to engage women assessed as having a low risk of breast cancer to ensure mutual trust, balance the practicality of change whilst ensuring acceptability, and carefully develop multilevel inclusive communication strategies.

PATIENT AND PUBLIC CONTRIBUTION: The research within this paper involved patient/public contributors throughout including study design and materials input.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3287-3296
Number of pages10
JournalHealth expectations : an international journal of public participation in health care and health policy
Issue number6
Early online date26 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Breast Neoplasms/diagnosis
  • Qualitative Research
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Personnel


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