Invitation to Gyn Exam Effective

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.