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Rural practices successfully pilot screening programme

By Gareth Iacobucci

Health screening in rural areas can successfully identify modifiable risk factors in hard-to-reach patients, a study has shown.

The project led by practice-based commissioners in Ryedale, North Yorkshire, and supported by the drug company AstraZeneca, identified several people with risk factors associated with hypertension, heart disease and diabetes, who were subsequently referred to a GP.

The scheme which carried out targeted screening in a tent set up at an agricultural show in the area, was set up to reach what the Ryedale PBC group termed ‘a stoical population' who do not routinely visit their GP for health checks.

Of 88 people screened at the show, 30% had a BMI above 25, 11% had cholesterol levels greater than 6mmol/L, 17% were referred for BP checks, 3% had spirometry performed and one patient had glucose levels above 9mmol/L.

Data from the scheme has been shared locally to inform PBC groups in the area, but has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The group concluded: ‘The project confirms that taking health screening events out into the rural community results in a positive uptake of health screening. This may ultimately help to identify those at higher-risk of long-term conditions earlier in those who might not seek health screening otherwise, and so help to prevent their development.

‘This is a clear indication that the general public are aware of potential problems and will take advantage of screening events if offered in a convenient manner, rather than take time out to visit their GP surgery.

‘This project offers one method of successfully reaching a rural community for health screening.'

Rural practice