Best practice guidelines recommend vision testing in children 3 to 5 years of age for the prevention of amblyopia; however, universal vision screening is controversial. In Canada, amblyopia screening can be the responsibility of physicians, optometrists, and/or Public Health. We review the evidence underlying preschool vision screening for amblyopia using an Evidence-based Public Health (EBPH) approach, and consider implications for the Public Health provision of universal screening programs for amblyopia in Canadian jurisdictions in light of present practices.
We searched the literature to address each major screening criterion (disease, test, treatment, program requirements) necessary to support preschool vision screening for amblyopia. We also reappraised papers cited in two systematic reviews related to the impact of vision screening. The Chief Medical Officer of Health of each province/territory was sent a short survey asking whether there currently was a Public Health preschool vision screening program in place and if so, for specifics about the program.
An EBPH approach to the literature with respect to the criteria for screening and available intervention studies support amblyopia screening by Public Health. There is a public health divide in amblyopia screening practice in Canada; while some provinces maintain organized programs, others have chosen to delegate the task to other professionals, without a concurrent surveillance function to monitor disparities in uptake.
Amblyopia deserves attention from Public Health. Efforts should be made to maintain existing programs, and provinces without organized screening programs should reconsider their role in the prevention of inequities with regard to preventable blindness in Canadian children.
Women in rural and remote northern Alberta access breast cancer screening through a mobile mammogram program (Screen Test). The Enhanced Access to Cervical and Colorectal Cancer Screening (EACS) project was a 2-year pilot that aimed to integrate cervical and colorectal cancer screening with the Screen Test program. This study compares cervical and colorectal cancer screening uptake among women screened through the pilot (Screen Test-EACS) versus Screen Test.
Screen Test-EACS was offered between 2013 and 2015 in selected rural and remote sites, with a focus on hard-to-reach women living in First Nations, Métis and Hutterite communities. Participation in cervical and colorectal cancer screening was analyzed for Screen Test and Screen Test-EACS participants 6 weeks before clients received their mammogram and then again 3 months after.
A total of 8390 and 1312 women participated in Screen Test and Screen Test-EACS, respectively. Screen Test-EACS significantly increased uptake of cervical (10.1% v. 27.5%) and colorectal (10.9% v. 22.5%) cancer screening, increasing the prevalence of women up to date with screening from 52.5% to 62.9% for cervical cancer screening and from 37.3% to 48.7% for colorectal cancer screening.
Screen Test-EACS increased participation in and the overall prevalence of cervical and colorectal cancer screening among hard-to-reach clients in northern Alberta, probably through removal of barriers to access and increased awareness. Further research should focus on balancing the benefits of increased participation with the costs and potential risks of over-screening.