Objectives: Mental illness is associated with physical illness and mortality from a variety of causes including cancer. There is little information on screening attendance among the mentally ill population. An audit was conducted of a breast screening service in inner London to determine uptake rates in women with mental illness.
Design: Cross sectional data linkage study of the local screening register and patients of the local psychiatric units. Screening uptake rates in all patients, those with a history of multiple detentions in hospital, and those with psychosis were compared with the local reference population.
Setting: Women in three inner London boroughs.
Participants: Screening records for 933 psychiatric patients and 44 195 women without mental health problems aged 50 to 64 years.
Main results: Overall, psychiatric patients were as likely as the reference group to attend breast screening. Patients with a history of multiple detention were significantly less likely to attend (OR = 0.40, 0.29 to 0.55; p<0.001), as were patients with a diagnosis of psychosis (OR = 0.33, 0.18 to 0.61; p<0.01). Increasing age, a history of detention in hospital, and social deprivation remained independent predictors for non-attendance.
Conclusion: Women with severe mental health problems may be less likely to attend national screening programmes such as breast screening, and action should be taken to overcome the barriers to attendance.
- breast screening
- mental illness
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Funding: Cancer Research UK.
Competing interests: none declared.
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