Cancer Institute NSW
Step 10: Strategies for increasing cancer screening participation among people who live remotely
“You can’t just drop in (for screening); you have to drive an hour.”
- Woman, Ulong, NSW
Cancer screening among remote communities
- People living remotely or very remotely are less likely to participate in bowel, breast and cervical cancer screening.3,4,5
- The number of GP services provided per person in ‘Very remote’ areas during 2010–2011 was about half that of major cities.33
- Following a positive iFOBT result, the diagnostic assessment follow-up rate of those living very remotely was 52.8% compared with 70.6% in major cities.3
Barriers to screening for people living remotely can include the following:
- Lack of access to health services (less availability of GPs, bulk bill services, out-of-hours services.34
- Travel time to health services.30
- Lower education and income.34
- Lack of privacy due to social or personal familiarity with health care providers (in small rural or remote towns).34
Strategies for increasing cancer screening participation among people who live remotely:
- Support your patients to understand their nearest BreastScreen NSW location by visiting breastscreen.nsw.gov.au and entering their postcode.
- Encourage women to book online at book.breastscreen.nsw.gov.au.
- Consider working with your local BreastScreen NSW service to organise a group booking for your remote and very remote patients.
- Work in partnership with BreastScreen NSW and your PHN to support provision of transport for group bookings (your PHN may be able to provide more information about community transport services).
- Consider delivering out-of-hours health clinics.
- Use your practice data to actively encourage patients to attend cervical screening, and provide transport assistance where possible.
- Integrate discussions about bowel and breast screening into cervical screening appointments, if age appropriate.
- Use software prompts to support integration of cancer screening into routine care to maximise opportunistic screening.
- Consider offering bulk billing to patients with health care cards.
Follow up and support patients who have a positive iFOBT to access timely diagnostic assessment.