Mammography is often painful and unpleasant, but effective interventions to improve the experience remain scarce. As a first step towards more effective interventions, we aimed to achieve a thorough, contemporary understanding of thoughts, feelings and behaviours which affect and arise from mammography experiences. Research and professional experience suggest that the interaction between client and practitioner may be paramount in determining the quality of a client’s experience. Therefore this study aimed to capture the perspectives of clients and mammography staff from UK breast screening programmes. Thematic analysis of semi-structured qualitative in-depth interviews with 22 clients and 18 staff revealed that clients had positive attitudes to breast screening and mostly low knowledge about potential harms. Staff data indicated that some women attend for breast screening under pressure from others. Pain and coping with it were prominent themes, with wide variations in pain experiences. Clients recognised differences in mammographers’ abilities to put them at ease. Staff difficulties included empowering clients within the confines of a taxing technique, and maintaining compassionate care when under strain. Future intervention development should focus on the information and support needs of women prior to the appointment and on effectively training and supporting mammographers to deal with challenging encounters.
- Patient satisfaction