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Mammography screening and trust: The case of interval breast cancer


  • Solbjør, Marit
  • Skolbekken, John-Arne
  • Sætnan, Ann Rudinow
  • Hagen, Anne Irene
  • Forsmo, Siri


Interval cancer is cancer detected between screening rounds among screening participants. In the Norwegian Breast Cancer Screening Programme, 19 per 10,000 screened women are diagnosed with interval cancer. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 26 such women. The women interpreted their interval breast cancer in two ways: that mammography can never be completely certain, or as an experience characterized by shock and doubts about the technology and the conduct of the medical experts. Being diagnosed with interval cancer thus influenced their trust in mammography, but not necessarily to the point of creating distrust. The women saw themselves as exceptions in an otherwise beneficial screening programme. Convinced that statistics had shown benefits from mammography screening and knowing others whose malignant tumours had been detected in the programme, the women bracketed their own experiences and continued trusting mammography screening. Facing a potentially lethal disease and a lack of alternatives to mammography screening left the women with few options but to trust the programme in order to maintain hope. In other words, trust may not only be a basis for hope, but also a consequence of it.

Suggested Citation

  • Solbjør, Marit & Skolbekken, John-Arne & Sætnan, Ann Rudinow & Hagen, Anne Irene & Forsmo, Siri, 2012. "Mammography screening and trust: The case of interval breast cancer," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(10), pages 1746-1752.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:10:p:1746-1752
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.07.029

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Adelswärd, Viveka & Sachs, Lisbeth, 1996. "The meaning of 6.8: Numeracy and normality in health information talks," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 43(8), pages 1179-1187, October.
    2. Pfeffer, Naomi, 2004. "Screening for breast cancer: candidacy and compliance," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 151-160, January.
    3. Barker, Kristin K. & Galardi, Tasha R., 2011. "Dead by 50: Lay expertise and breast cancer screening," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(8), pages 1351-1358, April.
    4. Gilson, Lucy, 2003. "Trust and the development of health care as a social institution," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(7), pages 1453-1468, April.
    5. Mechanic, David & Meyer, Sharon, 2000. "Concepts of trust among patients with serious illness," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 51(5), pages 657-668, September.
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