Variation in Prostate-Specific Antigen Screening in Men Aged 80 and Older in Fee-for-Service Medicare
[see editorial comments by Dr. Jeff Whittle, pp 757–759]
Article first published online: 22 MAR 2010
© 2010, Copyright the Authors. Journal compilation © 2010, The American Geriatrics Society
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
Volume 58, Issue 4, pages 674–680, April 2010
How to Cite
Bynum, J., Song, Y. and Fisher, E. (2010), Variation in Prostate-Specific Antigen Screening in Men Aged 80 and Older in Fee-for-Service Medicare. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 58: 674–680. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.02761.x
- Issue published online: 1 APR 2010
- Article first published online: 22 MAR 2010
- prostate cancer;
- primary care;
OBJECTIVES: To determine the rate of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening in men aged 80 and older in Medicare and to examine geographic variation in screening rates across the U.S.
DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study of variation across hospital referral regions using administrative data.
SETTING: National random sample in fee-for-service Medicare.
PARTICIPANTS: Medicare beneficiaries aged 80 and older in 2003.
MEASUREMENTS: Percentage of men aged 80 and older screened using the PSA test.
RESULTS: The national rate of PSA screening in men aged 80 and older was 17.2%, but there was wide variation across regions (<2–38%). Higher PSA screening in a region was positively associated with greater total costs (correlation coefficient (r)=0.49, P<.001), greater intensive care unit use at the end of life (r=0.46, P<.001), and greater number of unique physicians seen (r=0.36, P<.001). PSA screening was negatively associated with proportion of beneficiaries using a primary care physician as opposed to a medical subspecialist for the predominance of ambulatory care (r=−0.38, P<.001).
CONCLUSION: PSA screening in men aged 80 and older is common practice, although its frequency is highly variable across the United States. Its association with fragmented physician care and aggressive end-of-life care may reflect less reliance on primary care and consequent difficulty informing patients of the potential harms and low likelihood of benefit of this procedure.