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Published: 06 June 2024

National Screening Service presents new research at annual RCPI Faculty of Public Health Summer Scientific meeting

By Sinéad Woods, Senior Public Health Officer, National Screening Service

We recently attended the RCPI Faculty of Public Health Summer Scientific meeting to share our expertise, with our team delivering both oral and poster presentations. This annual meeting brings together public health experts from across Ireland to share their work and research.

Specialist Registrar in Public Health Medicine, Dr Philippa White, was awarded best overall short oral presentation for her presentation on ‘A decade of population-based screening for colorectal cancer in Ireland: Lessons from four rounds of BowelScreen’. The presentation examined screening uptake and colonoscopy outcomes from our BowelScreen programme during its first ten years, with a focus on how these differ between male and female screening participants.

Philippa also presented a poster on ‘Breast Cancer Screening and Deprivation in Ireland: Findings from 10 years of BreastCheck’. This study assessed the associations between deprivation and risk of breast cancer being detected by our BreastCheck programme, and of screen-detected breast cancer being detected at a late stage. The study found that:

  • women eligible for screening had a similar risk of having their breast cancer detected by BreastCheck regardless of deprivation level
  • women who are more deprived had a higher risk of having their breast cancer detected at a late stage when screened.

Behavioural Insights Specialist, Dr Alice Le Bonniec, presented a poster about the development of a toolkit to enable community health workers to implement local interventions to support people to take part in screening. This work is part of our community screening champions project which aims to improve equity in screening. Alice spoke about small actions that can make a real difference in supporting people to take part in screening, including arranging appointments and access for people with additional needs and organising postal delivery for people who may not have a permanent address.

Our Patient and Public Partnership (PPP) Strategy 2019-2023 was recently evaluated and our Public Health Strategy and Development Manager, Estelle McLaughlin, presented a poster outlining the evaluation process using the Public and Patient Engagement Evaluation Tool (PPEET). The findings of this evaluation highlighted that our patient and public partners, and staff, agree that the objectives of the PPP strategy were achieved, demonstrating the value of patient engagement in healthcare settings. The use of validated tools such as PPEET are necessary to effectively monitor engagement in an organisation. We’re looking for new people to join our PPP network.

We’ve been doing research to better understand the potential role of HPV self-sampling for cervical screening in Ireland. It’s part of our work to increase uptake in cervical screening and make it more equitable. It’s also part of our roadmap to Cervical Cancer Elimination. Our Senior Public Health Officer, Sinéad Woods, presented the results of our research on women’s attitudes and preferences towards HPV self-sampling. The presentation focused on answering the question ‘would a HPV self-sampling option appeal to our under- and never-screened populations for cervical screening?’. The research indicates that a self-sampling option could appeal to these populations but that more research is needed to inform any future implementation of a self-sampling option.

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