The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) today announced two new evidence-based checklists designed to help men and women understand which medical checkup tests they need to stay healthy at any age. The men’s and women’s versions of Your Checklist for Health show at a glance what the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends regarding screening tests, preventive medicine and other healthy lifestyle behaviors.
“The abundance of health information available for patients can be confusing,” said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. “These new checklists provide patients with scientific evidence in an understandable reference tool.”
Your Checklist for Health, available in English and Spanish, is a pocket-size brochure designed to be taken with patients when they visit their health care providers to make it easier to talk about which screening tests they might need. Unlike diagnostic tests, which clinicians order when they suspect someone has a disease, screening tests help check for problems before they have symptoms. Both checklists provide tips about other things to do to stay healthy, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising. A chart to record a patient’s screening test history and help plan followup medical appointments also is included.
The checklist for men includes recommendations about cholesterol checks, tests for high blood pressure, colorectal cancer screening and recent Task Force recommendations on screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm, HIV and obesity. The checklist for women includes recommendations about screening for high cholesterol; breast, cervical and colorectal cancers; and osteoporosis. It also includes recent Task Force recommendations on obesity screening and screening for HIV for all pregnant women.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent panel of experts in prevention and primary care. The Task Force conducts rigorous, impartial assessments of the scientific evidence for the effectiveness of a broad range of clinical preventive services, including screening, counseling, and preventive medications. Its recommendations are considered the gold standard for clinical preventive services. AHRQ provides technical and administrative support, but the recommendations of the panel are its own.
Men: Stay Healthy at Any Age, Your Checklist for Health and Women: Stay Healthy at Any Age, Your Checklist for Health are available on the AHRQ Web site at http://www.ahrq.gov/ppip/healthymen.htm and http://www.ahrq.gov/ppip/healthywom.htm or by calling 1-800-358-9295 or sending an E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
OK- so what can you do with this? Well, you can make sure that your current practices conform with these recommendations. Secondly, you can print copies, which includes your contact information, and hand it to all patients. Third: put it on your website. Few patients will be able to keep track of what tests should be done at what age, and few physicians offer reminders of any sort. Preventive testing does make a difference in a person’s health, and it is good business, so you are on firm clinical grounds for reminding your patients that it’s time for their colonoscopy. Dentists do it, ophthalmologists do it, mammographers do it – you can do it to.