Four in five women agree that access to mammograms that offer better detection and lower their chances of being called back for more testing is important (81 percent and 82 percent, respectively), according to new survey findings released today by the Society for Women's Health Research (SWHR®). A staggering 47 percent of women report being recalled for further testing at some point after receiving abnormal mammogram results, which triggers feelings of fear, stress and sadness.

SWHR is the nation's only nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the health of all women through research. This survey of women ages 18 and older is designed to better understand women's habits and perceptions around breast cancer screening and mammograms, including the motivating factors, obstacles and barriers, emotional impact and expectations for the future. The research was conducted in September 2014 and surveyed 3,501 women; it was conducted using multiple collection methodologies (online, telephone, in-person) and was available in English or Spanish.

The survey also asked women about advances in mammography technology, specifically 3D mammograms that have been proven to be more accurate in finding invasive cancers earlier and decreasing call backs due to false alarms. In addition to wanting access to these mammograms, women overwhelmingly believe that the 3D mammography exam should be covered by insurance (88 percent). Two-thirds (67 percent) would consider switching insurance companies for superior technology like 3D mammograms.

"Our mission is to use this research to spark a dialogue about what women really want when it comes to mammography - a perspective that, unfortunately, is all too often missing from the conversation about breast cancer screening and prevention," said Phyllis Greenberger, MSW, President & CEO, Society for Women's Health Research. "By better understanding the concerns and challenges that today's women face, we are hopeful that we can help policymakers and health care providers align both access and payment with real patient needs."

Although more than three-quarters (78 percent) strongly believe mammograms are important, nearly half (46 percent) fail to make it an annual occurrence, as guidelines from the American Cancer Society and major medical societies consistently recommend. Among the barriers to scheduling a mammogram, women cite high cost and lack of insurance as the most significant. Women also report that they must factor non-medical costs, such as those for travel or childcare into the time and effort it takes to get a mammogram. Secondary barriers such as ability to get a referral and transportation differ by race and ethnicity.

More than half (64 percent) of the women surveyed lack an adequate understanding of the benefits of mammography. In addition, two-thirds (68 percent) of women are unaware or do not believe that the Affordable Care Act requires that Medicare and commercial health insurance cover preventative services like mammography at no cost sharing to the patient.

The study also reveals that health care providers can play a critical role in motivating women to schedule mammograms. Fifty-six percent of women say their provider's recommendation is the most significant factor in scheduling a mammogram.