A new federal report, Enhancing Use of Clinical Preventive Services Among Older Adults: Closing the Gap, calls attention to the critical gaps that exist between older Americans, particularly minorities, who receive potentially lifesaving preventive services and those who do not.
Clinical prevention services examined in the report include vaccinations that protect against influenza and pneumococcal disease; screenings for the early detection of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, diabetes, lipid disorders, and osteoporosis; and smoking cessation counseling. It also addresses the use of preventive services by diverse populations. About 49% of Asian/Pacific Islanders and 47% percent of Hispanics reported not being screened for colorectal cancer, compared with 34% of whites. More than 50% of Hispanics, 47% of blacks and Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 36% of whites report never receiving a pneumococcal vaccination.
The report, which was published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in partnership with 3 agencies in the Department of Health and Human Services, says the challenges underlying these disparities are complex and reach beyond the traditional health care arena of patient-provider interactions. A section of the new publication titled "Making a Difference" features innovative strategies aimed at the local, state, and national levels to increase the use of preventive services in underserved communities. The showcased activities include promotion of policies to increase community access; making services available in convenient community settings, such as providing influenza vaccinations at polling places on election days; and building awareness through the media.