Preventive Care Screening in the Puerto Rican Geriatric Population: A Formative Evaluation of Patient Knowledge

Vanessa Sepúlveda-Rivera, Christian Donato-Santana, Gil Diaz-Vega


Objective: This study was meant to be the first step in bridging a gap in the literature concerning Puerto Rican geriatric patients’ levels of knowledge concerning 4 preventive care screening tests: mammography, bone densitometry, colonoscopy, and lipid panels. Methods: Patients 65 years old and older were interviewed at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), Medical Sciences Campus, primary care clinics. Fisher’s exact test was used to assess knowledge status for each screening test. Results: Fifty-three participants, 53% being women, took part in the study. All the women (100%) reported having knowledge about mammography screening as well as about bone densitometry scans (71%); 91% of the participants reported having knowledge concerning colonoscopy. Only 34% understood what information results from a lipid panel. The majority of the participants were not aware of precisely when each of the screening tests under discussion should be undertaken. For all the screenings, level of education and provider recommendation were associated with increased levels of knowledge (though statistically significant only for bone densitometry and lipid panels). Conclusion: Elderly Puerto Ricans appear to have knowledge about screening tests; however, there is an overall lack of knowledge about the timing of screening. Risk factors for this lack of knowledge are having a relatively lower level of education, the lack of healthcare-provider recommendation, and the lack of patient education. Understanding when to have tests is vital for interventions, in order to improve patient outcomes, which can include death from treatable conditions or diseases. Future research should include larger samples as well as studies of outcomes associated with these screening tests. These will help researchers and policymakers better understand this issue and aid in the development and implementation of interventions for both patients and physicians.


screening, geriatrics

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