News in Brief: Week of April 16-20

April 18, 2012 05:05 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

AAFP's Revised Cervical Cancer Screening Guidance Reflects USPSTF Recommendations

In the wake of last month's release of revised cervical cancer screening recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the AAFP has reviewed its clinical guidance on this topic and finalized its own screening recommendations.

The Academy's recommendations align with those issued by the USPSTF and call for routine cervical cancer screening for women ages 21-65 but recommend against screening for women younger than 21. The AAFP's guidance also addresses other, risk-based screening scenarios.

The Academy's recommendation statement also aligns, in large part, with recently released joint guidelines( from the American Cancer Society, the American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology, and the American Society for Clinical Pathology. The joint guidelines differ from those promulgated by the USPSTF and the AAFP in that the former assigns "preferred" and "acceptable" value statements to two different screening protocols for women ages 30-65, whereas the Academy and the task force indicate that the choice of protocol for these patients should be based on patient preference.

Report Reveals Health Status of U.S. Citizens County-by-County

The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have released their 2012 County Health Rankings report( as part of the groups' collaborative County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program.

The interactive report, which is the third annual report released, provides information on mortality, morbidity and various health factors on a county-by-county basis for all 50 states. A new section of the report implemented this year allows counties to build their own roadmaps to a healthier future. The tool provides information on what counties can do to create a healthier environment for their citizens. Information is provided based on a checklist of what the user wants to accomplish. This is further broken down based on the user's role in the community, including as a medical professional.

Survey Looks at Social Media Health Care Interactions

A new consumer survey( (Free registration required) from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP indicates that about one-third of consumers use social media to engage in discussions about health and health care, which provides an opportunity for health care professionals, including family physicians, to engage with their patients.

The study of 1,060 adults found that "social media is changing the nature of health-related interactions." It looked at four characteristics that have changed how individuals interact with health care organizations: user-generated content, community, rapid distribution, and two-way dialogue.

For example, the study found that 61 percent of consumers say they are willing to trust information posted online by health care professionals, such as physicians, and 41 percent say they are likely to share information with health care professionals using social media.

"Social media presents new opportunities for how individuals manage their health, whether researching a particular illness or joining a support group to share experiences," says the report.

And the transparency offered by social media is setting new expectations by patients. "As more people go online to interact with their banks and make purchases, they want to do this with their doctors, health plans, and condition and disease management as well," says Laura Clapper, M.D., chief medical officer of the online community OneRecovery, in the report.