Reflections from women with an interval breast cancer diagnosis: A qualitative analysis of open disclosure in the BreastScreen Western Australia program


Background: ‘Interval breast cancer’ describes a malignancy that is diagnosed after a negative screening mammogram. Open disclosure is a process of addressing a negative health outcome that includes an apology and an opportunity for the client to discuss concerns. BreastScreen Western Australia has implemented a policy of open disclosure. The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of clients’ experience with interval cancer and their attitude towards the screening programme by conducting a thematic analysis of written responses from women participating in the open disclosure process.

Methods: Women experiencing an interval cancer diagnosis between 2011 and 2020 were sent a questionnaire by mail. It included two broad questions with free-text responses. A qualitative analysis of the responses was conducted using an inductive approach. Responses were de-identified and data were thematically analysed and presented using verbatim quotations.

Results: Five themes emerged in response to “what could we have done better?”: ‘nothing,’ ‘broaden scope,’ ‘service delivery,’ ‘breast density education’ and ‘more education’ generally. Six themes emerged in response to “what did we do well?”: ‘staffing,’ ‘overall satisfaction,’ ‘reminders,’ ‘follow-up after interval cancer,’ ‘efficiency’ and ‘information and education provision.’ An additional theme of ‘storytelling’ emerged from both questions: an opportunity for the woman to share her experience of cancer.

Conclusion: Most women expressed positive attitudes towards the service and appreciated giving feedback in the open disclosure process. Several themes supporting the role of BreastScreen in education were identified, including providing information about breast density, breast health, and limitations of screening


Breast neoplasms, disclosure, mammography, mass screening

Link to Publisher Version (URL)


This document is currently not available here.

Find in your library