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Anxiety, Depression, False-positive result, HADS, Health-related quality of life, Organized mammography screening, SF-36



  1. Hafslund, Bjorg MSc
  2. Espehaug, Birgitte PhD
  3. Nortvedt, Monica W. PhD


Background: Decreased anxiety has been reported among women with false-positive results in mammography screening programs. No long-term effects have been fully demonstrated, and the findings for anxiety and depression are contradictory. Few studies have addressed changes in health-related quality of life (HRQOL).


Objective: The objective was to study the short- and long-term effects such as changes in anxiety, depression, and HRQOL among women with false-positive results.


Methods: With a longitudinal study design, data were collected on anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) and HRQOL (Short-Form 36 [SF-36] Health Survey) among women with false-positive results before screening, at recall, and at 3 and 6 months after screening. Controls (negative results in screening) were measured before screening and at 6 months after.


Results: Women with false-positive results (n = 128) showed increased anxiety at recall (mean, 4.6 [SD, 3.7]) versus before screening (P = .04), but this decreased until 6 months after screening. Depression was increased until 6 months after screening (not statistically significant). Women with false-positive results scored lower than did control subjects on general health (P = .02) and mental health (P = .03) and higher on depression (P = .045) at 6 months after screening.


Conclusions: Efforts should be made to minimize anxiety at recall and depression after screening. Further research is needed on the long-term effects of recall and any effects on HRQOL.


Implications for Practice: Information about the prevalence of false-positive results and time until unambiguous diagnostic results should be improved. Information leaflet based on evidence needs to be continually updated.