Invitation to Gyn Exam Effective

May 10, 2005

Do even half of your patients keep their appointments for annual gynecologic exams? Compliance with annual checkups is so poor that most ob/gyns would have to answer "no." Boris Petrikovsky, MD, PhD, and a research team at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, NY, found that simply inviting women to visit their physician can boost compliance rates by nearly a third.

Do even half of your patients keep their appointments for annual gynecologic exams? Compliance with annual checkups is so poor that most ob/gyns would have to answer "no." Boris Petrikovsky, MD, PhD, and a research team at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, NY, found that simply inviting women to visit their physician can boost compliance rates by nearly a third.

The key, Dr. Petrikovsky said, is to link the invitation to a significant event such as a birthday or anniversary. In his study, 1,218 established patients were sent a "Happy Birthday" letter. The physician invited each woman to give herself a special birthday present by keeping her annual checkup appointment.

There was little effect among middle-aged and older women, Dr. Petrikovsky reported. Among patients over the age of 65, 43% kept their annual appointments before the invitation and 50% kept their appointments after the Happy Birthday letter, a 7% increase. Women between the ages of 56 and 55 showed an 8.9% increase in compliance, from 46.4% to 55.3%.

Younger women reacted more strongly to the personalized invitation from their physicians. In the 46-to-55 age group, compliance jumped from 46.4% to 60.8%.In the 36-to-45 group, compliance increased 21.1%, from 38.2% before the letter to 59.3% after.

Women 35 and younger showed the greatest response, with compliance up from 41.7% to 74.2%, an increase of 32.5%. The P value for all three groups 55 years and younger was less than 0.05.

Petrikovsky BM, Ben-Rimon A, Ansari A, Ostrovsky M. "Happy Birthday" project to improve compliance with annual gynecologic examinations. Obstet Gynecol. 2005;105(4 suppl):42S.