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Are breast density notification laws working?

by Gus Iversen, Editor in Chief | July 07, 2021
Women's Health
From the July 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

HCB News: Do we know why breast density notifications are not more effective?
NK: Our prior paper in JAMA, which reported textual analyses we conducted on various states' DBNs, found that DBNs' readability levels ranged from grades seven to 19.4 (mean, 11.1), most exceeding the recommended readability level (grades seven to eight); about 20% of the population reads below a fifth grade level. Only three states’ DBN readability level was at the eight-grade level or below, and some of the highest readability levels occurred in states with the lowest literacy levels. These findings suggest that DBNs are hard to read and/or understand for some women.

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HCB News: What role can healthcare providers play in supporting breast density awareness among their patients?
NK: In other research led by my colleague Dr. Christine Gunn, we have found that providers are themselves not well-informed about breast density. So, for starters, it seems that they need more education about breast density and the associated risks. Then, with this information, they can help to educate their patients.

HCB News: Are there other opportunities, more broadly, to improve breast density awareness across the country?
NK: Yes, there is an opportunity to improve health education about breast density in general and especially for women with low literacy, through decision aids, and health education materials. It seems that more targeted approaches are needed to achieve more equitable knowledge and access to information, in order to alleviate existing disparities.

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