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Multistate transitional models for measuring adherence to breast cancer screening: a population-based longitudinal cohort study with over two million women

Sutradhar R, Gu S, Paszat LF. J Med Screen. 2017; 24(2):75-82. Epub 2016 Jul 19.

Objective — Prior work on the disparities among women in breast cancer screening adherence has been methodologically limited. This longitudinal study determines and examines the factors associated with becoming adherent.

Methods — In a cohort of Canadian women aged 50-74, a three-state transitional model was used to examine adherence to screening for breast cancer. The proportion of time spent being non-adherent with screening was calculated for each woman during her observation window. Using age as the time scale, a relative rate multivariable regression was implemented under the three-state transitional model, to examine the association between covariates (all time-varying) and the rate of becoming adherent.

Results — The cohort consisted of 2,537,960 women with a median follow-up of 8.46 years. Nearly 31% of women were continually up-to-date with breast screening. Once a woman was non-adherent, the rate of becoming adherent was higher among longer term residents (relative rate = 1.289, 95% confidence interval 1.275-1.302), those from wealthier neighbourhoods, and those who had an identifiable primary care provider who was female or had graduated in Canada.

Conclusion — Individual and physician-level characteristics play an important role in a woman's adherence to screening. This work improves the quality of evidence regarding disparities among women in adherence to breast cancer screening and provides a novel methodological foundation to investigate adherence for other types of screening, including cervix and colorectal cancer screening.

Keywords: Breast cancer Screening and prevention Women’s health