Advertisement

False-positive mammograms linked to spike in anxiety prescriptions

Researchers say individual aspects of patient health and the potential for false-positive mammograms need to be discussed before the procedure.

By Amy Wallace
A recent study by Penn State shows women who receive a false-positive mammogram are at an increased risk of being prescribed medications for anxiety or depression. Photo by CristinaMuraca/Shutterstock
A recent study by Penn State shows women who receive a false-positive mammogram are at an increased risk of being prescribed medications for anxiety or depression. Photo by CristinaMuraca/Shutterstock

July 6 (UPI) -- A recent Penn State study found women who receive a false-positive mammogram result are more likely to start taking anxiety or depression medication.

The study, published this week in Medical Care, found women who received a false-positive mammogram result were prescribed new anxiety or depression medications at a rate 10 to 20 percent higher than patients who received an immediate negative result.

Advertisement

A false-positive mammogram result comes when a suspicious finding on the screening mammogram leads to additional tests that do not end in a cancer diagnosis.

The study analyzed commercial and Medicaid-claims databases to identify women age 40 to 64 who had screening mammography who had no prior use of anxiety or depression medications.

RELATED Mammogram decision hinges on patient, doctor talk, ob-gyn group says

Among the group of patients who needed more than one test to resolve the false-positive result, researchers report a 20 to 30 percent increase in patients beginning to take an anxiety or depression medication.

Women who had to wait longer than one week to get a negative result and women who are under 50 may all be at higher risk of experiencing anxiety or depression.

Previous studies have suggested a negative impact on women who receive false positive mammograms with some women opting to skip future mammograms and many experts now suggesting women over 40 decide work with their doctors to decide on a schedule for their screenings.

Advertisement

"Certainly evidence about the increased anxiety and costs surrounding false-positive mammograms has played into some of the recent changes in mammogram recommendations," Joel Segel, an assistant professor of health policy and administration at Penn State, and lead author of the new study, told UPI.

Segal said the findings in the new study point to a need to include stress and anxiety when considering recommendations for mammography, which is why new guidelines have encouraged women to work with their doctors to achieve the right balance for their own risk factors and preferences.

"While regular screening is important, part of patient-centered care means that it is also important for patients to discuss the potential for false-positive results and to receive follow-up care should they experience increased anxiety," Segel said. "Our study's results also suggest that if false-positives can be accurately and quickly resolved it may lessen the anxiety surrounding the experience."

RELATED Obamacare boosts breast cancer screening, study finds

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement