Patients get half of preventive screens

Jan. 19, 2012 at 10:10 PM

RICHMOND, Va., Jan. 19 (UPI) -- U.S. patients receive half of recommended preventive health services at an annual check-up by their doctors, researchers found.

A team of researchers -- led by Jennifer Elston Lafata of the Cancer Prevention and Control program at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center, and colleagues -- found 46 percent of eligible and due services were missed during periodic health examinations.

Data came from audio recordings of 484 periodic health examination visits to 64 general internal medicine and family physicians in southeast Michigan for 19 guideline-recommended preventive services.

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found the services most likely to be delivered were screenings for colorectal cancer, hypertension and breast cancer, but patients were least likely to receive counseling about aspirin use, vision screening and an influenza immunization recommended or delivered.

"It appears that while some preventive services are likely to be received by some patients, several services which are known to reduce disease go undelivered during routine periodic health examinations," Elston Lafata said in a statement. "Relying on face-to-face interactions between physicians and patients will likely continue to result in less-than-optimal service delivery."

Technological advances that provide patients with easy access to their personal health records, coupled with automated reminders, may be one way patients can work with physicians to increase delivery of preventive services, Elston Lafata said.

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