Survey: Women appear more willing than men to get preventive screenings

Could confusing PSA guidelines be to blame?

A new poll found that nearly half of women underwent a mammogram in the last year, but just over one-quarter of men have undergone PSA blood testing, in the wake of new questions about the value of mammograms and prostate cancer tests.

For the Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll released last week, surveyors called more than 3,000 U.S. households between June 1-June 13 .

The researchers found that women were generally more likely to know about mammogram screening guidelines, and be influenced by the recommendations, than men were to be aware of prostate cancer guidelines.

Among female respondents, in the past 12 months:

  • 78% of women 50 or older said they were aware of mammogram screening guidelines;
  • 52% of those aware said the guidelines influenced their decision; and
  • 49% of women overall had a mammogram.

Among male respondents, in the past 12 months:

  • 67% of men 50 or older said they were aware of prostate screening guidelines;
  • 45% of those aware said the guidelines influenced their decision; and
  • 27% of men overall had undergone a prostate screening.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in April recommended against routine prostate cancer screenings—but two recent studies suggest that up to nearly 50% of doctors are unlikely to change their practices.

"Though screening guidelines differ for men and women, these findings illustrate a clear distinction in attitudes toward routine health screening," according to Truven chief medical officer Ray Fabius. "Women and patients who have a personal physician are better health care consumers in general."

The researchers also found that consumers with higher income and education were more likely to be screened (Hensley, "Shots," NPR,  9/6; Truven Health Anayltics 2012, NPR, 9/5).


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