All women aged 50--79 were invited by two group practices to undergo screening and 57% accepted. Women of the same age range in other practices, who referred themselves, were also screened. Interview with random samples of 100 invited screened women (acceptors), 100 invited unscreened women (rejectors), and 50 self-referred women enabled comparisons to be made of personal and social characteristics, previous health behaviour, and beliefs about cancer in the three groups. Self-referral was associated with lower age, higher social class, and higher educational levels. Women accepting invitations included more who had previously used other screening procedures, for example, cervical smears and chest x rays, than those rejecting invitations. Previous use of screening was even more among self-referred women. Acceptance of screening was associated with belief in the possibilities of curing cancer.
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