Breast screening for women with intellectual disabilities: An exploratory descriptive survey conducted to identify practices of screening for Breast cancer

Ann Lalor - MA – Master of Science in Nursing

Keywords: Intellectual Disabilities • Breast Screening

(30 Jul 2009)
Background: The incidence of breast cancer in Ireland is increasing. However the mortality rate is decreasing, which may reflect the benefits of improved treatment and early detection through better screening (McNicholas et al, 2004). Evidence suggests that surveillance services for breast cancer for women with Intellectual disabilities (ID) have not been promoted to the same extent as women in the general population (Davis and Duff, 2001; Sullivan et al, 2003).

Method: A quantitative methodology using a newly developed questionnaire was used in this explorative descriptive study. The target sample was the primary carers of 129 purposively selected post-menopausal women with ID living in three residential care settings in an area where breast screening provided by BreastCheck was available. The response rate was 69.7%.

Results: The findings revealed that 85.6% of the sample received invitations to attend mammography breast screening. Of those invited, there was an attendance rate of 80%. However, 13% were unable to successfully complete the procedure owing to difficulties such as fear, discomfort, distress and an inability to co-operate compounded by a lack of understanding. Successful completion was associated with a breast examination. However, it was found that 24% of the entire sample do not receive any breast surveillance whatsoever.



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