Background: The net benefits and harms of prostate cancer screening with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test are uncertain, and professional organizations recommend that physicians discuss these uncertainties with patients before initiating screening. Using a nationally representative sample of men reporting past PSA screening, we aimed to determine the extent to which screening was initiated by physicians and preceded by physician-patient discussions.
Methods: Cross-sectional analysis of data from the 2000 National Health Interview Survey; 2,676 men aged 40 and older underwent PSA screening and met study inclusion criteria. We analyzed the proportions of men for whom PSA screening was (1) was initiated by the physician versus the patient, and (2) preceded by discussions about the test's advantages and disadvantages.
Results: Overall, 74% (95% CI=71.8-76.0) of recipients reported that PSA screening was initiated by their physician, and the proportion increased with advancing age, declining health status, lack of family history of prostate cancer, presence of a usual source of medical care, and non-Hispanic ethnicity. Sixty-five percent (95% CI=63.1-67.1) of screening recipients reported prescreening discussions with their physicians. Discussions were more common with physician-initiated screening than with patient-initiated screening, and among patients reporting a usual source of medical care, non-blue-collar occupation, and black race.
Conclusions: Among U.S. men receiving PSA screening, screening is usually initiated by physicians, frequently in men relatively less likely to benefit from it, and often without prior discussion of the test's advantages and disadvantages. Further examination of the PSA decision-making process among screened and unscreened men is warranted.