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1 in 12 Outpatient Visits Is for Prevention: Study

They include cholesterol checks, gynecologic care and cancer screening

TUESDAY, Sept. 25 (HealthDay News) -- In the United States, preventive health exams account for about 1 in 12 adult outpatient visits to doctors, says a study that found that, each year between 2002 and 2004, about 63.5 million adults had a preventive health or gynecological check-up, at an annual cost of $7.8 billion.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and RAND Health, Pittsburgh, analyzed 2002-2004 data from a nationally representative survey of office-based doctors.

During those three years, the doctors in the survey had 181,173 adult outpatient visits. Of those, 5,387 were preventive health exams and 3,026 were preventive gynecological exams.

Translated nationwide, those figures were equivalent to 44.4 million adults (20.9 percent of the population) having preventive health exams and 19.4 million women (17.7 percent of adult women) having preventive gynecological exams each year, the researchers said.

Adults in the Northeast were 60 percent more likely to have a preventive health exam than those in the West, and uninsured people were half as likely to have one as those with private insurance or in Medicare.

Mammograms, cholesterol screening, smoking cessation counseling and other preventive services were provided at 52.9 percent of the preventive health exams in the study and in 83.5 percent of preventive gynecological exams.

The findings were published in the Sept. 24 issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about preventive services for healthy living.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, Sept. 24, 2007

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