Preventive Services Underused by Older Adults in U.S.

CDC report points out gaps in care, including racial disparities in screening rates

TUESDAY, March 15 (HealthDay News) -- The aging population is growing steadily, but many older adults do not receive the preventive services they need, according to a new report issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Lynda A. Anderson, Ph.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues examined recommended clinical preventive services for adults aged 65 and older as well as self-reported survey data to identify gaps in the use of preventive services in this population.

The report examines disparities in clinical services such as vaccinations against influenza and pneumococcal disease, cancer screening, and counseling for smoking cessation. According to the report, the proportion of Asian/Pacific Islanders and Hispanics who report not being screened for colorectal cancer is 49 and 47 percent, respectively, compared with 34 percent of whites. In addition, more than half of Hispanics, 47 percent of Asians/Pacific Islanders and blacks, and 36 percent of whites report never having received a pneumococcal vaccination.

"Millions of Americans are not getting proven clinical preventive services that we know can prevent disease and improve quality of life," Anderson said in a statement. "The report takes stock of current levels of recommended services by older adults, and it becomes obvious that many of these services are woefully underutilized."

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