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Preventive Care

Narrative

Preventive health care, including counseling, education, and screening, can help prevent or minimize the effects of many serious health conditions. In 2007–2009, 68.3 percent of adults reported that they had received a routine checkup or general physical exam that was not for a specific injury, illness, or condition. Women aged 18 and older were more likely than men to report having had a past-year preventive health care visit (73.4 versus 62.9 percent, respectively). This sex difference was most prominent among 18- to 44-year-olds, when women may receive annual reproductive health care, and was absent among those aged 65 years and older. For both men and women, the receipt of preventive health care increased with age.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends specific screening tests, counseling, immunizations, and preventive medications for a variety of diseases and conditions including several types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, injury, infectious diseases, mental health, and substance abuse.1 For example, biennial breast cancer screenings (mammograms) are recommended for every woman aged 50–74 years and cervical cancer screenings (Pap smears) are recommended every 3 years after the onset of sexual activity or age 21, whichever comes first, up to age 65. In 2008, 78.8 percent of women aged 50–74 years reported receiving a mammogram within the past 2 years and 81.8 percent of women aged 21–65 reported receiving a Pap smear within the past 3 years. There were no significant differences in receipt of a mammogram in the past 2 years among women of different races and ethnicities; however, non-Hispanic Asian women were less likely than women of other racial and ethnic groups to have reported receiving a Pap smear in the past 3 years (70.4 versus 81.8 percent overall). The Affordable Care Act requires that new insurance plans cover essential preventive services, including well woman visits, free of charge as of August 2012.2

1 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.External Web Site Policy Recommendations. Accessed 04/19/11.
2 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Affordable Care Act Ensures Women Receive Preventive Services at No Additional Cost. Accessed 08/05/11.

Graphs

Data

Past Year Preventive Check-up Among Adults Aged 18 and Older,* By Age and Sex, 2007–2009
Age Group Percent of Adults
Female Male
*Reported a routine checkup in the past year, defined as a general physical exam that was not for a specific injury, illness, or condition
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, 2007–2009. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Information Resource Center.
18-44 Years 66.7 52.7
45-64 Years 75.2 68.4
65-74 Years 86.7 85.8
Total 73.4 62.9
Receipt of Recommended Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Among Women,* by Race/Ethnicity,** 2008
Race/Ethnicity Percent of Women
Mammogram Pap Smear
*Based on U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations of biennial mammography for women aged 50 to 74 years and a Pap smear every three years for women aged 21 to 65 years.
**The sample of American Indian/Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders was too small to produce reliable results.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey, 2007-2009. Analysis conducted by the Maternal and Child Health Information Resource Center.
Non-Hispanic White 78.3 82.5
Non-Hispanic Black 83.3 84.1
Hispanic 76.6 80.2
Non-Hispanic Asian 83.8 70.4
Total 78.8 81.8

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