March 25, 2015
1 min read

Veterans assigned to women’s health providers more likely to undergo cervical, breast cancer screenings

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Female veterans assigned to designated women’s health providers at Veterans Affairs are more likely to be screened for cervical and breast cancer, according to a recently published study in Medical Care.

“The reason for higher levels of screening rates among patient linked to [designated women’s health providers] could include greater emphasis on sex-specific and general prevention by those providers, ownership of performing the screening and/or consistent documentation of the breast and cervical cancer screening, patients choosing to see their specific providers more often, or organizational factors in the clinical setting,” Bevanne Bean-Mayberry, MD, MHS, VA Greater Los Angeles HSR&D Center for the Study of Healthcare Innovation, Implementation and Policy, and colleagues wrote.

Bevanne Bean-Mayberry

To assess the association of whether or not patients who were assigned to see designated women’s health providers (DWHPs) had higher rates of cervical and breast cancer screenings, researchers evaluated 37,128 women veterans aged 21 to 69 years.

Cervical cytology was seen in 94.4% of women assigned to DWHPs, compared with only 91.9% of women assigned to non-DWHPs (P < .0001). Women assigned to DWHPs also had higher rates of mammograms, with 86.3% compared to 83.3% among patients seeing non-DWHPs (P < .0001).

When adjusting for patient factors (age, race, ethnicity, mental health diagnoses, obesity and site) and provider factors (DWHP status, sex and panel size), patients designated to DWHPs were more likely to get screened for cervical cancer (OR = 1.26; 95% CI, 1.07-1.47) and breast cancer (OR = 1.24; 95% CI, 1.1-1.39).

“Ongoing work to evaluate the presence of DWHPs in various VA medical centers or community-based clinics may be warranted to understand processes for improving quality,” Bean-Mayberry and colleagues wrote. – by Casey Hower

Disclosure: Bean-Mayberry has no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.