“It's about our bodies… we have the right to know this stuff”: A qualitative focus group study on Australian women's perspectives on breast density

Publication Name

Patient Education and Counseling


Objective: This study aimed to explore Australian women's current knowledge, perspectives and attitudes about breast density (BD); and information needs to inform effective evidence-based communication strategies. Methods: Fourteen online focus group sessions with a total of 78 women in New South Wales and Queensland, Australia aged 40–74 years without a personal diagnosis of breast cancer were conducted. Audio-recorded data was transcribed and analysed thematically. Results: Women had a very limited knowledge of BD. Overall, women expressed a preference for more frequent mammograms and/or supplemental screening should they be told they had dense breasts, despite being presented with information on potential downsides of additional testing. The majority of women were supportive of the notion of BD notification, often suggesting they had a ‘right to know’ and they would prefer to be educated and informed about it. Conclusion: The potential of being informed and notified of BD is found to be of interest and importance to Australian women of breast screening age despite lacking current knowledge. Practice Implications: This study highlights that policy makers and screening services need to consider how to weigh up these views and preferences of women with current evidence surrounding BD in deciding about implementing population-based BD notification.

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Funding Sponsor

Australian Government



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