There is a need to research interventions that improve access to and convenience of breast cancer screening services.
We conducted a randomised trial comparing invitations to out-of-hours appointments with standard office hour appointments. Women who were to be invited for routine breast screening were randomised (3 : 1 : 1 : 1) to one of these screening invitations: standard office hour appointment, office hour appointment with the option to change to an out-of-hours appointment, weekday evening appointment, or weekend appointment.
A total of 9410 women were invited to an office hour, 3519 to an office hour with the option to change, 3271 to a weekday evening, and 3162 to a weekend appointment. The offer of an initial out-of-hours appointment was associated with a non-significant decrease in attendance rates (73.7% vs 74.1%). The highest attendance was observed in the group offered an initial office hour appointment with the option to change to out-of-hours (76.1% vs 73.3% for standard office hour, P=0.001), with 7% of invitees exercising the option to change.
The optimum strategy for improving attendance at breast screening is to offer a traditional office hour appointment and including in the letter of invitation an option to change to an evening or weekend appointment if wished.