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Study finds patients receive half of recommended preventive health services at annual check-ups
Date:1/19/2012

RICHMOND, Va. (Jan. 19, 2012) More than 20 percent of U.S. adults receive periodic health examinations (PHE) each year, yet new research shows that patients who have an annual routine visit to their doctor may not receive recommended preventive screening tests and counseling services that could benefit their health.

Recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, a study performed by a team of researchers led by Jennifer Elston Lafata, Ph.D., co-leader of the Cancer Prevention and Control program at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Massey Cancer Center and professor of social and behavioral health at VCU, found that 46 percent of eligible and due services were missed during PHEs. The results came from audio recordings of 484 PHE visits to 64 general internal medicine and family physicians in southeast Michigan.

"While the percentage of services delivered may appear low, when you account for the lack of incentives to physicians for screenings and preventive counseling and the limited amount of time during visits to address all recommended services, the numbers are not surprising," says Elston Lafata.

By analyzing the audio recordings to determine if physicians suggested or delivered 19 guideline-recommended preventive services, the researchers discovered that the services most likely to be delivered were screenings for colorectal cancer, hypertension and breast cancer. Patients were least likely to receive counseling about aspirin use and vision screening, and were also unlikely to have an influenza immunization recommended or delivered.

The team also evaluated the factors contributing to service delivery. Service delivery decreased with patient age and increased with the patient's body mass index (BMI), an indicator of body fatness based on height and weight. While approximately half of the 19 preventive services studied were prompted in the patient's electronic medical record (EMR), the res
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Contact: John Wallace
wallacej@vcu.edu
804-628-1550
Virginia Commonwealth University
Source:Eurekalert

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