Recent survey evidence indicates a decline in mammography use among older women.
The objective of this study was to detect sensitivity of self-reported mammography use and pose evidence-based suggestions to increase survey accuracy.
Using the 1991–2006 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, 15,357 women, aged ≥65 years, were selected based on use of mammography services. The women were interviewed in the community setting at random periods after screening and asked, Have you had a mammogram or breast X-ray since [today's date or previous supplement round interview date] a year ago? Statistical analyses were conducted between March 11 and April 28 of 2008. This study tested whether sensitivity (i.e., probability of an affirmative response) was dependent on length of the recall period and on respondent demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.
Overall, 90.4% of the older women self-reported use; however, sensitivity decreased as the recall period lengthened (90% at 6 months, 80% at 12 months). This time effect was significantly higher among older, economically disadvantaged women. Sensitivity also decreased an additional 13.8% if the event occurred in the previous calendar year, and 3.5% if conducted in a non-English language or by proxy.
Greatest sensitivity occurred during the 6-month period after service without straddling calendar years. These findings may aid the tailoring of future surveys for older adults, improving the recall of preventive services.
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