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Is Mammography Screening an Effective Public Health Intervention? Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Is Mammography Screening an Effective Public Health Intervention?  Evidence from a Natural Experiment

John Cullinan, School of Business and Economics, NUIG

21st September 1pm on zoom


Publicly-funded population-based screening programmes can help improve clinical outcomes, alleviate health inequalities, and reduce healthcare costs. However, many of the benefits and harms of screening can only be observed at a population level and only over a long enough timeframe for the cascade of events triggered by screening to culminate in disease-specific mortality reductions. In this paper we exploit a natural experiment resulting from the phased implementation of the Irish national mammography screening programme to examine the impact of screening on breast cancer outcomes from both a health service and a population perspective. We conclude that although the programme produced the intended short-term intermediate effects of screening and improved outcomes from a service-level perspective, these failed to translate into reductions in overall breast cancer mortality at a population level or result in decreases in socioeconomic disparities in breast cancer outcomes.