Organization Communication Factors and Abnormal Mammogram Follow-up: a Qualitative Study Among Ethnically Diverse Women Across Three Healthcare Systems.J Gen Intern Med. 2020 Jun 29 [Online ahead of print]JG
Regular mammogram screening for eligible average risk women has been associated with early detection and reduction of cancer morbidity and mortality. Delayed follow-up and resolution of abnormal mammograms limit early detection efforts and can cause psychological distress and anxiety.
The goal of this study was to gain insight from women's narratives into how organizational factors related to communication and coordination of care facilitate or hinder timely follow-up for abnormal mammogram results.
We conducted 61 qualitative in-person interviews with women from four race-ethnic groups (African American, Chinese, Latina, and White) in three different healthcare settings (academic, community, and safety-net).
Eligible participants had an abnormal mammogram result requiring breast biopsy documented in the San Francisco Mammography Registry in the previous year.
Interview narratives included reflections on experience and suggested improvements to communication and follow-up processes. A grounded theory approach was used to identify themes across interviews.
Participants' experiences of follow-up and diagnosis depended largely on communication processes. Twenty-one participants experienced a follow-up delay (> 30 days between index mammogram and biopsy). Organizational factors, which varied across different institutions, played key roles in effective communication which included (a) direct verbal communication with the ability to ask questions, (b) explanation of medical processes and terminology avoiding jargon, and (c) use of interpretation services for women with limited English proficiency.
Health organizations varied in their processes for abnormal results communication and availability of support staff and interpretation services. Women who received care from institutions with more robust support staff, such as bilingual navigators, more often than not reported understanding their results and timely abnormal mammogram follow-up. These reports were consistent across women from diverse ethnic groups and suggest the value of organizational support services between an abnormal mammogram and resolution for improving follow-up times and minimizing patient distress.