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BMJ Open. 2011 Apr 7;1(1):e000046. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2010-000046.

Is unhealthy substance use associated with failure to receive cancer screening and flu vaccination? A retrospective cross-sectional study.

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Section of General Internal Medicine, Boston Medical Center and Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Objective To compare cancer screening and flu vaccination among persons with and without unhealthy substance use. Design The authors analysed data from 4804 women eligible for mammograms, 4414 eligible for Papanicolou (Pap) smears, 7008 persons eligible for colorectal cancer (CRC) screening and 7017 persons eligible for flu vaccination. All patients were screened for unhealthy substance use. The main outcome was completion of cancer screening and flu vaccination. Results Among the 9995 patients eligible for one or more of the preventive services of interest, 10% screened positive for unhealthy substance use. Compared with women without unhealthy substance use, women with unhealthy substance use received mammograms less frequently (75.4% vs 83.8%; p<0.0001), but Pap smears no less frequently (77.9% vs 78.1%). Persons with unhealthy substance use received CRC screening no less frequently (61.7% vs 63.4%), yet received flu vaccination less frequently (44.7% vs 50.4%; p=0.01). In multivariable analyses, women with unhealthy substance use were less likely to receive mammograms (adjusted odds ratio 0.68; 95% CI 0.52 to 0.89), and persons with unhealthy substance use were less likely to receive flu vaccination (adjusted odds ratio 0.81; 95% CI 0.67 to 0.97). Conclusions Unhealthy substance use is a risk factor for not receiving all appropriate preventive health services.

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