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What is the Value of Preventive Testing?

Posted by Simone Isadora Flynn, PhD, NPA Project Manager-Leveraging Social Media December 31, 2014 at 11:47 AM

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NPA Values Challenge: “Among older adults whose nine-year mortality risk is 75 percent or greater, from one-third to as many as one-half are still receiving cancer-screening tests that are no longer recommended.”

In “Too Young to Die, Too Old to Worry,” Jason Karlawish explores the appropriate role of preventative screening services for our oldest citizens. Karlawish reports, “Groups like the United States Preventive Services Task Force find that after certain ages, the benefits of prevention are not worth the risks and hassles of testing, surgeries and medications.”

Should physicians reduce preventive testing based on the patient’s overall health? How likely is it for such savings to be spent on other services that impact well-being? These questions are at the heart of the reallocation of scarce resources proposal included in NPA’s new policy brief, Value and Values in Health Care.

Read Karlawish’s article below and tell us what you think. Your responses to NPA blog posts help us refine our communications about important issues and influence the choice of initiatives we undertake.

When it comes to prevention, there can be too much of a good thing. Groups like the United States Preventive Services Task Force regularly review the evidence that supports prevention guidelines, and find that after certain ages, the benefits of prevention are not worth the risks and hassles of testing, surgeries and medications. Recent guidelines for cholesterol treatment from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, for example, set 79 years as the upper limit for calculating the 10-year risk of developing or dying from heart attack, stroke or heart disease. They also suggest that, after 75, it may not be beneficial for a person without heart disease to start taking statins. But that doesn’t mean everyone follows this advice.

For the full article, click here.

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One Response to “What is the Value of Preventive Testing?”

  1. Drew Hudson says:

    Great article.

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