Document Type : Original Article
School of Medicine, Faculdade Israelita de Ciências da Saúde Albert Einstein, São Paulo, Brazil
Graduate Program in Epidemiology, TelehealthRS Project, School of Medicine, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, Brazil
Universidade de Caxias do Sul (UCS), Caxias do Sul, Brazil
Community Health Services, Grupo Hospitalar Conceição, Porto Alegre, Brazil
School of Medicine, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, Brazil
Cancer ranks second as a cause of death in Brazil. Although preventive practices are part of the daily routine of primary healthcare (PHC) teams, organized screening programs are lacking. This study aimed to evaluate the adequacy of preventive interventions in the main cancer types, as defined by the Brazilian government.
We analyzed cross-sectional data from a larger project conducted in 2016 with PHC service users and physicians from all over Brazil, interviewed by trained research staff. The sample was stratified by the number of PHC physicians per geographic region, who were eligible for inclusion if they had been working in the same PHC unit for at least one year. Twelve adult patients with at least two encounters were included per participating physician. Only the data from service users were analyzed in this study. We evaluated the questions about preventive practices and calculated the following indicators: coverage, focus, screening errors, and screening ratio. National guidelines and international evidence were used as a comparison parameter.
The study population consisted of 6160 service users. The data indicate that the recommendations for cervical, breast, and prostate cancer screening and for treatment of tobacco dependence are not adequately followed. Coverage for breast and cervical cancer screening presented an overutilization bias, with rates 50% and 9% above the expected, respectively. The screening focus was also inadequate: 24%, 47%, and 54% of the screening tests for the three cancer types were performed in individuals outside the recommended age range. 31% of smokers were not approached for treatment.
These findings indicate that the Brazilian population has been subjected to inadequate and potentially iatrogenic interventions in PHC. New policies based on stricter criteria of adequacy and increased use of the concept of quaternary prevention may improve the effectiveness and equity of the health system.