• Vol. 39 No. 10, 750–757
  • 15 October 2010

Multi-disease Health Screening in an Urban Low-income Setting: A Community-based Study



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Introduction: We were interested to determine the participation rates for health screening in a multi-ethnic urban low-income community. We assessed the health screening rates at base line, collected data on reasons for non-participation and assessed the impact that a 5-month intervention had on health screening in this community.

Materials and Methods: The study population involved all residents aged ≥40 years, living in heavily subsidised public rental flats in Taman Jurong Constituency, Singapore. From January 2009 to May 2009, we collected baseline information and offered eligible residents free blood pressure, fasting blood glucose and lipid measurements, fecal occult blood testing and Pap smears. Screenings were conducted either at or near the residents’ homes.

Results: The participation rate was 60.9% (213/350). At baseline, 18.9% (24/127), 26.4% (42/159) and 18.7% (31/166) had gone for regular hypertension, diabetes and hyperlipidaemia screening, respectively; 3.8% (6/157) and 2.9% (2/70) had had regular colorectal and cervical cancer screening, respectively. Post-intervention, rates for hypertension screening increased to 97.6% but increases for other modalities were marginal. High cost, lack of time, not at risk, too old, or unnecessary for healthy people were commonly cited reasons for skipping regular health screening. Being unemployed was associated with missing regular hypertension screening (adjusted OR = 2.48, CI = 1.12-5.53, P = 0.026); those who did not need financial aid were less likely to miss regular hyperlipidaemia screening (adjusted OR = 0.27, CI = 0.10-0.72, P = 0.008).

Conclusion: The participation rates for health screening were poor in this low-income community. More can be done to encourage regular health screening participation amongst this segment of the populace, both by reducing costs as well as addressing misperceptions.

With the burden of chronic disease rising amongst rapidly urbanising Asian populations, active participation in health screening would allow for early detection and management of disease. However, participation in health screening can vary greatly within populations and is influenced significantly by sociodemographic and attitudinal factors.

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