Originally published in MedPage Today
by Kristina Fiore, MedPage Today Staff Writer
Only a quarter of baby boomers take advantage of preventive services such as flu vaccines and cancer screenings, a new report from the government and two powerful interest groups says.
At the same time, states are falling behind goals to increase certain screenings and reduce unhealthy behaviors, according to the report by the CDC, the American Medical Association (AMA), and the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP).
Researchers say the findings highlight a need for improved preventive services efforts.
“We are bringing together a concerted effort to align messages, to build awareness, to create an environment that makes services available, and to adopt public policies that promote healthy behaviors and increased access to services,” Matthew T. McKenna, MD, MPH, associate director for medical affairs at the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, said during a press briefing.
“Our presence here demonstrates a strong institutional commitment to integrating approaches to increase access and use of prevention services.”
McKenna pointed out several of the CDC’s Healthy People 2010 targets for boomers (ages 50 to 64) that states have fallen short of hitting.
Only five states, for example, met the target of more than 90% of women having a cervical cancer screening within the previous three years, and only four states had less than 20% of residents reporting no physical activity within the past month.
Only one state had less than 12% of its residents classified as current smokers, and none met the target of more than 60% of the target population getting a flu shot and the pneumonia vaccine.
Also, no state had an obesity rate of less than 15%.
“When you look at that picture, the opportunity seems to be clear,” McKenna said.
But he added that some goals were met. In all 50 states, more than 70% of eligible women got a mammogram within the past two years, and more than 80% of the target population had received a cholesterol screening within the previous five years.
Some 45 states had less than 13.4% of patients reporting binge drinking within past 30 days, and 33 states had more than half of their target population getting colorectal cancer screenings.
The report also identifies a total of 14 recommended clinical preventive services for patients ages 50 to 64:
* Mammogram within the past two years
* Pap test within the past three years
* Colorectal cancer screening within the past 10 years
* Cholesterol screening within the past five years
* Flu shot within the last year
* Pneumococcal vaccine ever among patients at risk
* Increase physical activity
* Smoking cessation
* No binge drinking
* Decrease obesity
* Reduce blood pressure
* Monitor moderate depressive symptoms
* Make sure men and women, respectively, are up to date with respective services
The report concludes with ways to strengthen ties between healthcare providers and community organizers. The researchers said a review of the literature found several strategies increased access to and use of preventive services in this age group: the Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation (WISEWOMAN) program, the Sickness Prevention Achieved through Regional Collaboration program (SPARC), and the Johns Hopkins Family Heart Study.
“We know that through clinical and community partnerships, we can make a stronger effort to ensure that services are offered in broad array of settings in local communities,” said Edward L. Langston, MD, an AMA trustee.
The report also calls for an increased understanding of the social determinants of health, as well as better ways to engage healthcare providers and patients in physical activity and tobacco-cessation methods.