New resource works to reduce barriers to cancer screening for people with disabilities

Wednesday 24 February, 2016

A resource launched today will provide online training to inform all people who care and support people with disabilities on how to speak about cancer screening.

The Overcoming the Barriers online training modules were designed by experts in the field of disability support and cancer screening, with regional and rural disability support workers in mind. The modules present evidence-based strategies to overcome the complexities of accessing national bowel, breast and cervical screening programs for their clients.

Centre for Developmental Disability Health Victoria Director Dr Jane Tracy said: "We recognised a need to add more screening information to the excellent existing face-to-face workshops offered by PapScreen Victoria and find a way to reach all disability support workers, regardless of where they operate.

"People with disabilities have the same need for and right to preventative health care, including cancer screening, as anyone else and yet they face additional barriers to accessing healthcare. This resource will assist disability workers to support the people with whom they work to achieve and maintain optimal health and function," said Dr Tracy.

Cancer Council Victoria's Screening Manager Kate Broun said: "Disability support workers and family members can play a crucial role in supporting screening, such as showing the client how to do a bowel screening kit or broaching the difficult topic of cervical screening.

"We know that up to 80% of women diagnosed with cervical cancer have either never had a Pap test or did not have them regularly in the 10 years before diagnosis, so this tool will empower carers to improve the cancer screening information they share with their patients," Ms Broun said.

The Overcoming the Barriers modules were funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and was developed by PapScreen Victoria and BreastScreen Victoria, in partnership with Centre for Developmental Disability Health Victoria, Cancer Council Victoria and BreastScreen Victoria.

The modules are free and can be accessed at: