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Study Links Overuse of Imaging Tests to Regional Divide

March 12, 2015
by Gabriel Perna
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Location, location, location.

According to a recent study by NYU Langone Medical Center researchers, where you live has a lot to do with whether or not you’re having to take unnecessary imaging tests.

The researchers examined medical records from 2004-2007 of 9,219 men with low-risk prostate cancer and 30,398 women with low-risk breast cancer, across 84 separate hospital referral regions (HRRs). They found that patients with low-risk prostate or breast cancer were more likely to receive inappropriate imaging during treatment, based on where they lived. HRRs in the Northeast had higher use of imaging tests, whereas the Northwest and Utah were more careful to use imaging when necessary.

"Policy makers and researchers need to target high-utilization regions and promote incentives for appropriate care. Such a focus would enhance efforts to cut excessive health spending and build value-based strategies into health care practice,” states Danil V. Makarov, M.D., assistant professor of Urology, Population Health, and Health Policy at NYU Langone and a member of the Perlmutter Cancer Center.

The researchers used a retrospective, cross-sectional analysis of data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Medicare-linked database. They then looked imaging tests within that database. They also found that for men, overuse of imaging was at 44.4 percent and for women, it was 42 percent.

The researchers say a more up-to-date database will be necessary to see if national measures to reduce the over-utilization of imaging tests have been effective. The study published online recently in JAMA Oncology.




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