This study examined differences in the odds of receiving health promotion/disease prevention services recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force among three subgroups of patients. It tested the hypotheses that those most uninvolved in their own health (as exemplified by the lack of knowledge of blood pressure and cholesterol levels despite having been tested) would receive the least other health promotion services, and those being treated for both high blood pressure and hyperlipidemia would receive the most additional services.
A mail survey was sent to a random sample of 68,422 veterans who had obtained primary care from any of the 153 Veterans Health Administration facilities in 1996. The adjusted response rate was 68%. Subgroup analyses were performed on three subgroups who reported having been tested for both hypertension and hyperlipidemia in the previous year (n = 5,113).
Both hypotheses were supported. Uninvolved patients were the least likely subgroup to report obtaining other recommended health promotion services, and the dually treated were most likely. The uninvolved subgroup was significantly more likely to report being female, physically inactive, current smokers, and heavy alcohol drinkers, and to report having a problem with alcohol, and significantly less likely to report being ≥50 years of age and overweight, to almost always wear seat belts, and to obtain at least 90% of their health care at the Veterans Health Administration.
Clinicians need to encourage all patients to receive health promotion services, but in particular they should be aware that those who do not know their last hypertension and cholesterol levels despite having been tested are particularly in need of attention.