Disparities in Cholesterol Screening in the United States. Falling Short of a National Health Objective
Objectives: To determine whether the Year 2000 national health objective for cholesterol screening was attained and to identify disparities in cholesterol screening across racial or ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Methods: Using data from the 1999 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, we estimated the proportion of adults aged ≥20 years who were screened for high blood cholesterol within the preceding 5 years. Results: Overall, an estimated 70.8% of the US population was screened for cholesterol, falling short of the Year 2000 objective of 75%. Screening prevalence was lowest at ages 20-44 years (58.2%) in contrast to ages 45-64 years (81.9%) and ages ≥65 years (87.1%). Screening prevalence was also lowest among Hispanics, especially Hispanic men. The likelihood of screening decreased with decreasing income level (p<0.05) and persons with health insurance were 1.6 times more likely to have been screened during the past 5 years than adults with no insurance (p<0.05). Conclusions: Significant disparities in cholesterol screening exist across age, sex, racial or ethnic, and socioeconomic groups in the United States. As we look to attain the objectives of Healthy People 2010, state and local health officials and policy makers should be aware of these disparities in order to design and target effective cholesterol screening programs and cardiovascular disease prevention programs to those most in need.