Counseling, education, and screening can promote healthy behaviors that prevent or minimize the occurrence of many serious health conditions. In 2002, females of all ages made almost 530 million physician office visits, compared to only 361 million visits made by males. Of visits made by females, 18.3 percent were for preventive care, including prenatal care, screenings, and insurance examinations. Women aged 25 to 44 years made the most preventive visits (23.5 percent), followed by those under 15 years of age (14.6 percent).Mammograms and Pap smears are two preventive services that are especially important to women’s health. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that Pap smears to screen for cervical cancer begin within three years from the initiation of sexual activity, or at age 21, whichever comes first. The Task Force recommends mammography every one to two years for women aged 40 and older. In 2002, 8.0 percent of all office visits made by women 18 and older included a Pap smear, and 5.1 percent of all office visits made by women 40 and older included a mammogram.

Counseling and education are sometimes offered during physician visits. In 2002, counseling or education related to nutrition was offered during 15.0 percent of visits made by females. Other types of counseling or education that were offered include exercise (10.5 percent of visits), mental health (4.9 percent), and weight reduction (3.9 percent).

Graph: Women's Self Report of Pap Smears and Mammograms During Physician Office Visits by Race/Ethnicity[d]

Graph: Counseling/Education Provided to Females During Office Visits[d]