Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Women With Mental Illness Are Less Likely to Receive Mammograms, Study Finds

Despite access to free health care services, women with mental illness may be less likely to receive breast cancer screenings than those without mental illness, according to a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The report focused on women living in the United Kingdom, who are regularly notified to get a breast cancer every three years between the ages of 50 and 70.

Previous studies have suggested that U.S. women with mental illness, particularly serious mental illness, are less likely to get mammograms than those without mental illness. Less clear, however, has been whether this disparity extends to women living in a country where there is universal health care, wrote Emma Ross, Ph.D., of the Centre for Public Health at the Queen’s University Belfast and colleagues.

For this study, Ross and colleagues used 2011 census data to identify a cohort of 57,328 women eligible for free breast screening in Northern Ireland. The researchers then tracked these women over the course of a three-year period, examining whether mental illness impacted the odds of their getting screened for breast cancer. Women were considered to have mental illness if they received at least one prescription for a psychotropic medication in the three months preceding their notification for a breast cancer screening.

The authors reported that nearly one-third of the women in the study were prescribed a psychotropic medication during this timeframe. Women who received a psychotropic medication prescription were 15% less likely to get a breast cancer screening than those without such a prescription. Additional analysis revealed that breast cancer screening was particularly low for women prescribed anxiolytics and antipsychotics.

“The findings of this study provide novel evidence of variation in the magnitude of disparity in screening attendance according to the type of psychotropic medication prescribed. Notably, the inequality in uptake was greatest in individuals prescribed anxiolytics, for whom a 39% reduction in the odds of attending screening was observed,” Ross and colleagues wrote. “Although the underlying relationship between anxiety and screening attendance is yet to be elucidated, it is plausible that the avoidance behaviors that commonly develop as a coping mechanism in individuals with anxiety disorders predominantly explain this reduced participation.”

For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Women With Schizophrenia Only Half as Likely to Receive Mammograms.” 

(Image: iStock/Lordn)

Today Is Last Day to Purchase PPE Through Project N95

To help members who are having trouble acquiring PPE, APA is collaborating with Project N95, a nonprofit organization working to get critical equipment to COVID-19 frontline workers. This collaboration will provide a special opportunity for APA members to purchase N95 respirators, isolation gowns, and disposable face shields. You must register with Project N95 to be eligible to place an order. Orders must be placed and paid for by 3 p.m. ET today, Tuesday, December 29.


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