The Impact of Mammography Screening Guideline Changes among Women Serving in the U.S. Military

Julie A. Bytnar, Celia Byrne*, Cara Olsen, Catherine T. Witkop, Mary Beth Martin, Amanda Banaag, Tracey Koehlmoos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Introduction: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) modified their screening guidelines for breast cancer in November 2009. Previous studies evaluated the impact of these guideline changes among privately and Medicare insured populations. Women in the military form a unique population exposed to many social, environmental, and occupational hazards that may increase breast cancer incidence. By evaluating mammography screening rates among women in the military before and after the USPSTF guideline changes, this study evaluated the impact of the USPSTF breast cancer guideline change on screening mammography use within the military population and determined whether current guidelines were followed for this high-risk population with universal health care access. Materials and methods: This study evaluated the impact of the 2009 guideline changes among the population of universally insured military servicewomen, comparing the proportion of active duty women aged 40 to 64 receiving mammograms from fiscal years 2006 to 2015 using an interrupted time series analysis. Stratified analyses evaluated differences by age (aged 40-49, 50-64), race, military branch, and rank. This research is considered exempt by the Uniformed Services University Institutional Review Board. Results: The proportion of insured military servicewomen receiving mammograms increased from October 2005 through September 2009. A significant decrease occurred in the first quarter of 2010 following the publication of the screening guideline update. From this new baseline, the proportion of women screened increased again through September 2015. Comparative analyses showed more pronounced effects both immediately and over time among the women aged 50 to 64 compared to those aged 40 to 49 years and among older enlisted women compared with their officer counterparts. The patterns were near identical in all subgroups; however, no changes in rate were evident among Air Force and black servicewomen aged 50 to 64 and Army and Navy/Marine Corps servicewomen aged 40 to 49 years. No racial disparities in screening or impact were noted. Conclusions: The USPSTF guidelines had differential impacts among some subpopulations. While older women, aged 50 to 64 years, had a greater temporary reduction immediately after the guideline change, younger women aged 40 to 49 years had a longer-term reduction in screening following the guideline changes. No racial disparities in the proportion screened or in the impact of the guideline change were noted in this population with universal health coverage. The lack of Department of Defense standard breast cancer screening guidelines was evident from the different patterns of mammography utilization observed among military branches. To completely understand the impact of the updated screening guidelines, future studies must incorporate research focusing on changes in breast cancer morbidity and mortality as well as updated cost-benefit analyses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E2088-E2096
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


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