Preventive Care

Counseling, education, and screening can help prevent or minimize the effects of many serious health conditions. In 2005, females of all ages made 560 million physician office visits. Of these visits, 19.7 percent were for preventive care, including prenatal care, health screening, and insurance examinations (data not shown). 1 Routine Pap smears, which detect the early signs of cervical cancer, are recommended at least every 3 years beginning within 3 years of initiation of sexual activity, or by age 21.2 Among women aged 21 years and older in 2005, 51.8 percent received a Pap smear in the past 3 years, while another 12.1 percent had received a Pap smear more than 3 but less than 5 years ago. More than 36 percent of women aged 21 years and older had no Pap smear within the past 5 years. The percentage of women receiving a Pap smear within the recommended timeframe decreases with age. In 2005, women aged 21–34 years were most likely to have had a Pap smear in the previous 3 years (81.0 percent), and were least likely to have not had a Pap test in the previous 5 years (9.7 percent). Women aged 65 years and older were least likely to have received a Pap test in the past 3 years (34.0 percent) and most likely to have not had one in the past 5 years (53.8 percent). Nearly 25 percent of women aged 35–54 and 37.7 percent of women aged 55–64 had not had a Pap test in the previous 5 years. High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease. The Healthy People 2010 goal is to increase the percentage of adults aged 20 and over who receive a cholesterol screening at least every 5 years.3 In 2005, 72.1 percent of women aged 20 years and older had received a cholesterol test within the previous 5 years. Non-Hispanic White and non-Hispanic Black women were more likely to have had the test (75.7 and 71.3 percent, respectively), compared to Hispanic women and non-Hispanic women of other races (53.5 and 64.7 percent, respectively).

1 Cherry DK, Woodwell DA, Rechtsteiner EA. National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2005 Summary. Advance data from vital and health statistics; no 387. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2007., accessed 01/16/08.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cervical Cancer: Screening Recommendations. [online] recommendations.htm, accessed 01/16/08.
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Trends in Cholesterol Screening and Awareness of High Blood Cholesterol — United States, 1991—2003. MMWR, Sept 9, 2005: 54(35); 865-870., accessed 01/16/08.

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