Patricia Carney

B.Comm., M.Econ.Sc.

PhD student NUI Galway

Patricia Carney is a doctoral researcher in health economics. Her current research focus is on the economics of breast cancer. Prior to this, Patricia was a researcher at the Rural Economy Research Centre, Teagasc. She was involved in a project measuring the productivity loss to Irish farmers due to overuse of artificial fertilisers on land and imported feeds for livestock. Patricia also has an interest in highlighting the cost of intimate partner violence on GDP. She has worked on projects commissioned by UN Women and the World Bank to draw attention to the potential loss to GDP due to intimate partner violence.

An analysis of breast cancer care

This research focuses on a number of aspects of breast cancer, such as uptake of screening and its impact on inequality measures, the cost of the diagnostic process for breast cancer as a screening programme matures and duration times between diagnosis and initiation of treatment. The research draws on data from three sources, the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), the Northern Household Panel survey (NIHPS) and data provided by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry (NICR).

Globally breast cancer is responsible for more female deaths than any other disease. A review of the literature highlighted age, stage at diagnosis and type of breast cancer to be among the key drivers of cost of breast cancer treatment. Breast cancer screening is an integral part of the cancer control strategies of many developed economies with the main aim being detection of breast cancer at an earlier stage. In Britain individuals screened in a given year are re-called every three years unless results indicate a need for more immediate investigation. This pattern may create a legacy arising from past decisions, a legacy that should be considered when examining current decisions. The first empirical analysis in the Ph.D. uses a balanced panel drawn from the BHPS of 1,997 women over an 18 year period to examine variations in uptake.

Following on from this, using data from the BHPS and the NIHPS, the corrected concentration index determines how a policy change impacts inequality of uptake of breast screening when it is universally offered to all women aged 50–70.

Using data provided by the NICR, the cost of breast cancer diagnosis is estimated PSSRU Unit costs and investigated how these processes and costs change over a ten year period. Duration times between diagnosis and initiation of treatment are also investigated to establish if preferential treatment of patients in the private health sector exists in a public health care system.

Keywords breast cancer, screening, diagnosis, treatment duration times, equality in screening


PhD research funding

  • NUI Galway Economics PhD fellowship

Head of Economics

Prof Alan Ahearne

Contact Economics

t:+353 91 492501/492177