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Reflective Essay About The Issue Of Cervical Screening Testing In People Who Have A Learning Disability

1891 words - 8 pages

The information leaflet that I have produced is on the promotion of cervical screening amongst women with a learning disability. I chose this topic because I was visiting a client when the post arrived with an invitation to a cervical screening appointment; this was immediately dismissed by both the client and the carer. It then occurred to me, how many other people with a learning disability are dismissing these appointments and why? Annually there are approximately 300 new cases of cervical cancer, resulting in an average of 100 deaths per year (Information Services Division 2007a). The cervical screening programme reduces the incidence of, and mortality from, cervical cancer by offering women at risk a regular cervical smear test (Wood & Douglas 2007) However, evidence is accumulating that women with learning disabilities have much poorer access to cervical screening than the general population: 13-24% (Wood & Douglas 2007) compared to 76.5% for the general female population (Information Services Division 2007b). These figures are quite dramatic and I wanted to develop a way to increase the uptake of the programme. It was hard to decide who to aim my leaflet at, as there is already a lot of information out there about cervical screening, there are leaflets for the general population and a couple aimed at women who have a learning disability, yet the uptake is still low. I decided that perhaps a collaboration of the two would be a good way forward. I am therefore aiming my information leaflet at carers, (but also for people with a mild learning disability) as a way of promoting discussion between themselves and women who have a learning disability.FeelingsAs a female I have received my first invitation to a smear test and have gone through the process, as such I understand how anxious it makes people feel and how tempting it is to ignore the letter. When having the test preformed I felt anxious, embarrassed and nervous and that is with a full understanding of the process. Therefore how does someone with a learning disability, who perhaps has little understanding of the process and reasons for a smear test, feel when the letter arrives on their door.It was my assumption that all females were invited for a smear test, however I have since found this has not always been the case. I was frustrated that within the general female population there is a large focus on the cervical screening programme but women with learning disabilities seem to be neglected. I am therefore pleased that new guidelines have been put in place within Lothian, 'Good Practice Guide in Cervical Screening for Women with a Learning Disability (2006), and hopefully this will change future practice.EvaluationThere are good leaflets available for women with a learning disability, for example 'Guide to having a smear test' (FAIR 2007), however I feel the problem lies with the availability of the leaflets. These leaflets are available on request, either by the women herself,...

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