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Keywords:

  • prostate-specific antigen;
  • prostate cancer screening;
  • primary care provider;
  • life expectancy;
  • cancer screening

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Clinical guidelines recommend against routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening for older men and for those with lower life expectancies. The authors of this report examined providers' decision-making regarding discontinuing PSA screening.

METHODS:

A survey of primary providers from a large, university-affiliated primary care practice was administered. Providers were asked about their current screening practices, factors that influenced their decision to discontinue screening, and barriers to discontinuing screening. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to examine whether taking age and/or life expectancy into account and barriers to discontinuing were associated with clinician characteristics and practice styles.

RESULTS:

One hundred twenty-five of 141 providers (88.7%) participated in the survey. Over half (59.3%) took both age and life expectancy into account, whereas 12.2% did not consider either in their decisions to discontinue PSA screening. Providers varied in the age at which they typically stopped screening patients, and the majority (66.4%) reported difficulty in assessing life expectancy. Taking patient age and life expectancy into account was not associated with provider characteristics or practice styles. The most frequently cited barriers to discontinuing PSA screening were patient expectation (74.4%) and time constraints (66.4%). Black providers were significantly less likely than nonblack providers to endorse barriers related to time constraints and clinical uncertainty, although these results were limited by the small sample size of black providers.

CONCLUSIONS:

Although age and life expectancy often figured prominently in decisions to use screening, providers faced multiple barriers to discontinuing routine PSA screening. Cancer 2012. © 2012 American Cancer Society.