Context: Despite the strong interest in health care quality, little is known about the quality of preventive care among women in rural primary care settings.
Purpose: We sought to assess the quality of screening practices in Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) as measured by the rates at which female patients received screening within national guidelines.
Methods: A cross-sectional, retrospective chart review of 480 charts of female patients in 12 randomly selected RHCs was conducted. Data were collected on screening activities documented in >3,800 patient visits. Chart data was extracted by trained, standardized chart auditors using the Women's Primary Care Screening Form for patient data and the Revised National Rural Health Clinic Survey for RHC background data. The rates of receipt of 5 preventive screenings received by female patients in RHCs were determined using a standardized and reproducible method, and patient and clinic characteristics associated with women's receipt of these screenings were identified.
Findings: Demographic characteristics of patients were similar to that of national rural comparisons. Screening rates for Pap tests (66%) and mammograms (55%) were lower than Healthy People 2010 estimates, but similar to other record audit data; screening rates for cholesterol with comorbidity (66%) were near the Healthy People 2010 estimate, and screening rates for cholesterol without comorbidity (61%) exceeded it; and rates of blood pressure screening (99%) exceeded Healthy People 2010 estimates of national rates. Screening rates for depression showed that 35% had received a formal or informal screening.
Conclusions: Rates of screenings for insured and uninsured female RHC patients in this retrospective chart review were not significantly different. Methods to improve pap and mammogram screening rates are needed.