Few Receive Preventive Care Services, Study Says
Fewer than half of all Americans receive the "most beneficial, cost-effective and disease preventing services in medicine," according to a study released by the not-for-profit group Partnership for Prevention and funded by the CDC. Study author Ashley Coffield of Partnership for Prevention said, "Preventive services are not yet part of everyday practice. These services provide a big bang for the buck, but they are not always covered, and they're not always delivered." Study co-author Michael McGinnis of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation said the study is the first to rank the "most highly recommended prevention practices by effectiveness and cost benefit" (Davis, USA Today, 6/22). The study prioritized 30 preventive health services recommended for the average-risk patient by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The study found that tobacco cessation counseling for adults, vision impairment screening for older adults, colorectal cancer screening for adults over age 50, chlamydia screening for young women, substance abuse counseling for adults and flu shots for seniors were services that ranked high on the list but reached fewer than half of Americans. For example, the study found that although tobacco cessation counseling, including nicotine replacement treatment, is effective, one-third of smokers enrolled in managed care plans did not receive advice to quit from their providers in 1999 (Partners for Prevention release, 6/22). Coffield said that "doctors can do better and patients can ask for more," USA Today reports. Noting that many people often change health plans, Coffield said that employers might have the "best shot" at prompting better preventive care (USA Today, 6/22). The study, as well as another examining methods for prioritizing preventive services, can be found in the latest issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.