Office Systems and Their Influence on Mammography Use in Rural and Urban Primary Care

Kimberly K. Engelman, Edward F. Ellerbeck, Denise Perpich, Niaman Nazir, Kevin McCarter, Jasjit S Ahluwalia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Context: Breast cancer screening rates are lower in rural communities. Although studies have addressed barriers to mammography for rural residents, physician practice barriers have received less attention. Purpose: Controlled clinical trials have shown that the use of office reminder systems in primary care practices is related to increased clinical care rates. Therefore, we compared office systems use in primary care practices located in rural and urban communities and assessed the impact of these systems on rural-urban differences in mammography utilization. Methods: We identified female Kansas Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 to 79 from Medicare claims data (N = 24,030) and determined which beneficiaries received a mammogram between April 1, 1999, and March 31, 2001. We linked beneficiaries to their primary care providers and obtained surveys from 180 primary care practices on their use of office reminder systems. Findings: Mammography rates ranged from 20% to 92% (mean = 65%) among the 180 practices. Flowsheets with a mammography prompt were used by 33% of the practices, 38% utilized nonphysician staff to identify women due for mammograms, and 15% used computerized reminder systems. Urban practices used flowsheets more often than rural practices (44% versus 16%, P<0.001). A multivariable regression model demonstrated higher mammography rates in urban practices, group practices, and practices using mammography flowsheets. Conclusions: Despite success in randomized controlled trials, reminder systems are not used often by primary care providers and are used even less often in rural compared to urban practices. Consistent implementation may be a major barrier to the successful adaptation of flowsheets by care offices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-42
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Rural Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2004

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