• Vol. 44 No. 9, 326–334
  • 15 September 2015

Health Screening Behaviour among Singaporeans



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Introduction: This study assessed the health screening behaviour of Singaporeans and evaluated factors associated with low uptake of screening tests.

Materials and Methods: Data from the 2010 National Health Survey, which was conducted on Singapore citizens and permanent residents, was used in this analysis. Multivariate Cox regression was used to evaluate the relationship between sociodemographics and health screening behaviour for selected chronic diseases (hypertension, diabetes and hypercholesterolaemia) and cancers (cervical, breast and colorectal). National recommendations for age at which screening should be initiated and appropriate screening interval were used to define appropriate screening behaviour.

Results: More respondents have had their last chronic disease screening done within the recommended time period compared to cancer screening. A total of 77.8%, 63.4% and 54.9% of the respondents had their last hypertension, diabetes and hypercholesterolaemia done within the recommended time period, while less than 50% of the respondents had their cervical (45.8%), breast (32.9%) and colorectal (20.2%) cancer screenings done within the recommended time period. Respondents with higher household income or with more years of education were more likely to have undergone screening within the recommended time period. Indians, who are at higher risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypercholesterolaemia, were also more likely to have been screened. A total of 69.9% and 79.5% of persons with previously undiagnosed diabetes and previously undiagnosed hypertension respondents reported having had diabetes and hypertension screening respectively within the recommended time period.

Conclusion: Sociodemographic factors that could be associated with a lower uptake of screening tests include: 1) those with low household income, 2) low education level, and 3) Malay ethnicity. Health promotion programmes and outreach to these groups can be enhanced to further improve screening uptake.

Early detection of disease through health screening, followed by assessment of abnormal screen results and management of chronic conditions, is a key strategy in non-communicable disease control. When used appropriately, screening followed by assessment of results and management of identified health conditions can prevent the development of complications early and significantly increase survival rates, and they are critical to limit escalations in healthcare costs.

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