Variability in mammography use among older women

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Quantitative Health Sciences



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

African Americans; Age Factors; Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Databases, Factual; European Continental Ancestry Group; Female; Health Services for the Aged; Humans; Income; Mammography; United States


Biostatistics | Epidemiology | Health Services Research


OBJECTIVE: To determine rates of and explore factors associated with mammography use among older women.

DESIGN: Retrospective review of part B (physician) bills submitted to Medicare during 1990.

SETTING: Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) data, including sociodemographic information and part B physician bills for all services delivered to Medicare-eligible women in 1990.

PATIENTS/PARTICIPANTS: Women age 65 or older as of January 1, 1990, residing in one of 10 states with part B coverage through December 31, 1990.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: The outcome was receipt of a mammogram (yes/no). We explored factors associated with mammography use within three age groups: 65 to 74, 75 to 84, and 85+. The factors considered were race, state, median income of ZIP Code of residence (from the 1990 US Census, and used to divide the population into quintiles within each state), and number of primary care visits (0, 1, 2, and 3+). Overall, 15% of women had a mammogram: 20% of women age 65 to 74, 12% of women age 75 to 84, and 4% of women age 85 and older. Mammography use was lowest in Oklahoma and highest in Washington. However, in each state the older the age category, the less the mammography use (e.g., 9% vs 5% vs 2% in Oklahoma and 25% vs 16% vs 5% in Washington for women 65-74, 75-84, and 85+, respectively). Mammography use was lower for black than for white women age 65 to 74 (14% vs 21%, P < .001) and 75 to 84 (9% vs 12%, P < .001). Women in each of these two age groups had lower mammography use if they resided in the lowest income quintile and highest if they resided in the highest income quintile (17% vs 23% 65-74, and 10% vs 13% 75-84, P values < .001). Among the oldest women (those 85+), mammography use was low (4%) and varied minimally by race and income (P = .907 and .003, respectively). In all age groups, mammography use was lowest among women who did not have a primary care visit, was greater among women who had at least one visit, and continued to rise with increasing numbers of visits (all P values < .001). For example, among women age 75 to 84, mammography use increased from 5% to 10%, 14%, and 17% for those with 0, 1, 2, and 3+ visits.

CONCLUSIONS: We found that mammography use was less for women who were older, of black race, who did not visit a primary care provider, and who lived in areas with lower median income and certain geographic locations (states). Similar factors influenced mammography use in women age 65 to 74, where there is greater consensus as to who should receive a mammogram, and women age 75 to 84, where there is neither consensus nor data. Surprisingly, neither race nor income had much influence on mammography use among women age 85 or older.

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Citation: J Am Geriatr Soc. 1996 Aug;44(8):922-6.

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed