In the Chesapeake, VA area mass screening tests are used to help those who lack access to regular healthcare with early disease detection. In the community at large, there are many who could potentially benefit from the efforts that have been put in place in order help economically disadvantaged populations. The City of Chesapeake has made a significant outreach to screen for potential cancers as well as general wellness. Some of these efforts have been helpful, but underutilized by their target audiences.
This paper will briefly look at those efforts and their usefulness. Chesapeake has a population of approximately 200,000 that is made up of 27 percent minorities. The city is growing at a very high rate with a dramatic 33 percent population increase during the past decade. This has resulted in a high demand for medical services, especially for low-income and older citizens. One of the areas of need was breast cancer screening.
A significant portion of the population comprises aging African-American females, who have three times the mortality rate of Caucasian females. Although this was identified as a need and was more of a diagnostic test that would have given more than a screening result, there were barriers. Many women in the target group chose not to take part. The main reasons for them not accepting this offer included: cost, fear of discomfort, not understanding the need for screening, transportation problems, and lack of awareness of community services.
The diagnostic test in the case of breast cancer would be a mammogram. This test would focus on detection and require specialized equipment. Screening tests look at disease symptoms to look for signs of potential illness. One such screen that is readily available is blood pressure screening. A simple blood pressure test using a sphygnometer administered by a health professional showing either normal or irregular blood pressure.
This is less intrusive and in general is useful to help identify serious cases of hypertension. In less serious cases, such screening is useful to help the patient examine diet and exercise levels. Whether they chose to follow-up with their physician or make healthy lifestyle changes is more in question. Overall, screening for general health is probably more useful at this point. Diagnostic screening in Chesapeake requires more outreach and awareness efforts to increase its usefulness.