Health Services Utilization
Counseling, education, and screening can help
prevent or minimize the effects of many serious health conditions.
In 2003, females of all ages made just over 537 million physician
office visits, compared to only 368 million made by males. Of visits
made by females, 18.7 percent were for preventive care, including
prenatal care, screenings, and insurance examination.
Mammograms and Pap smears are two preventive
services that are especially important to women’s health.
Routine Pap smears, which detect the early signs of cervical cancer,
are recommended within 3 years of initiation of sexual activity,
or by age 21. Mammography is recommended every 1 to 2 years for
women aged 40 and older to screen for breast cancer. In 2003, 6
percent of all office visits made by women aged 18 or older included
a Pap smear, and 4.6 percent of all office visits made by women
40 and older included a mammogram. An office visit including a Pap
smear was most common among women aged 18 to 24 years, while an
office visit with a mammogram was most common among women aged 50
to 59 years.
Vaccination is another important preventive measure
that women can take to protect their health. Vaccination for influenza
is generally recommended for young children, older adults, and adults
with certain health conditions. In 2004, 65.9 percent of women aged
65 and older reported receiving a flu vaccine in the past year.
Pneumonia vaccine is also recommended for older adults and people
with certain health conditions. In 2004, almost 60 percent of women
aged 65 and older reported ever receiving the vaccine. Recently,
Hepatitis B vaccination was recommended for everyone under age 18
and people with certain health risks. In 2004, almost 60 percent
of women aged 18 to 24 years of age reported ever having received
at least one dose in the three dose series; rates were highest among
non-Hispanic Whites and women of other races, and lowest among Hispanics.