Purpose: Effective written communication directly affects health care outcomes. Since 2016, the complex language of state-mandated breast density notifications (BDNs) has been challenged, because it is perceived to be beyond the comprehension of most patients. The aim of this study was to assess whether a revised BDN written at a lower reading grade level improves understanding compared with the current state-mandated BDN. Methods: A revised notification with similar content to the current state-mandated BDN was developed. Both notifications were presented to patients for direct comparison, using a paper survey asking questions that evaluated patients’ perceptions and convictions associated with breast density. Surveys were distributed at four outpatient imaging centers to screening mammography patients. Results: The current BDN's mean readability metric was 13.4, and that of the revised BDN was 6.6. Five hundred surveys were analyzed. Survey data demonstrated that 56.6% of all women perceived that dense breast tissue results indicated a “high” associated lifetime breast cancer risk from the current state-mandated BDN compared with only 2.2% with the revised notification (P <. 001). Nearly all women were more likely to initiate discussions with their providers regarding their breast tissue density after reading the revised notification (96.0%) as opposed to the current state-mandated BDN (32.8%; P <. 001). Conclusions: A significant portion of women misinterpret the intended messages of the current state-mandated BDN. Thus, a revised notification at a lower reading grade level may improve understanding of breast density, leading to improved individualized breast cancer screening for women with dense breasts.
- Breast density notification
- breast imaging
- screening mammography
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging