Background: It is well established that specialists often adopt new medical technologies earlier than generalists, and that racial and ethnic minority patients are less likely than White patients to receive many procedures and prescription drugs. However, little is known about the role that specialists or generalists may play in reducing racial and ethnic disparities in uptake of new medical technologies. Human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA tests, introduced as a cervical cancer screening tool in 2000, present a rich context for exploring patterns of use across patient and provider subgroups.
Objective: To identify patient characteristics and the provider specialty associated with overall and appropriate use of HPV DNA tests over time, and to examine the associations between clinical guidelines and adoption of the test in an underserved population.
Design: Retrospective longitudinal study using Florida Medicaid administrative claims data.
Participants: Cervical cancer screening test claims for 415,239 female beneficiaries ages 21 to 64 from July 2001 through June 2006.
Main measures: Overall and appropriate use of HPV DNA tests.
Key results: Although minority women were initially less likely than White women to receive HPV DNA tests, test use grew more rapidly among Black and Hispanic women compared to White women. Obstetricians/gynecologists were significantly more likely than primary care providers to administer HPV DNA tests. Release of the first set of clinical guidelines was associated with a large increase in the use of HPV DNA tests (adjusted odds ratio: 2.46, p<0.0001); subsequent guidelines were associated with more modest increases.
Conclusions: Uptake of new cervical cancer screening protocols can occur quickly among traditionally underserved groups and may be aided by early adoption by specialists.