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Breast Screening Booklet Demystifies Mammograms

Breast Screening Booklet Demystifies Mammograms

A newly released booklet guiding Northland women who have an intellectual disability through the breast cancer screening process is hoped to help patients nationwide.

Entitled ‘An Easy Guide To Breast Screening,’ the first-of-its-kind booklet was launched at IDEA Services in Whangarei on July 12 to ensure that women were fully informed about the process of having a mammogram, especially those aged 45 to 69.

Sue Cresswell, who is an MRT at Northland DHB’s Mauri Ora Breast Screening Clinic, said the inspiration for the booklet came from an experience in which a woman with intellectual disability arrived at the clinic to have her two-yearly mammogram.

Both the patient and her caregiver expressed that they found the mammogram confusing, distressing, and had no guide to indicate to them beforehand what to expect. It became evident there was a need for a booklet with the right language and pictures to prepare patients for the mammogram process.

Community coordinator Kelly Leha'uli set up a team to develop the booklet including Sue, Mauri Ora Breast Screening Clinic operations manager Barbara Miller, Māori support worker Rebecca Gilbert and Population Health Strategist Lyn Rostern. Liz Inch from the Communications team took the photos for the storybook.

They worked with Kim Fuller, who is health advisor for IDEA Services, and Kim communicated with IDEA clients and their carers to bring in their perspective. This led to women such as Cindy Andrews and Beverly Clifton becoming champions for the project and the faces of the booklet – although the booklet has a deliberately wide selection of faces on its cover, to help it appeal to consumers from a range of backgrounds.

The booklet might in future be adapted to demystify a range of hospital procedures for patients, Population Health Strategist Lyn Rostern said. Instead of portraying the mammogram experience, other booklets created from the template might explain to readers what to expect when being given anaesthesia or having blood taken.

Meeting the needs of health consumers with disabilities is a result of constant engagement with the cross-sector Disability Working Group which provides feedback to Northland DHB’s Disability Support Services, Lyn said.

Cindy Andrews serves as the main patient in the booklet and is shown using her local breast screening clinic, from paperwork to waiting room to mammogram. Cindy said she contributed an important detail to the booklet - a reminder for people like herself to “Keep still, relax and breathe” while having their breast x-rayed – and said she had a good experience during the photo shoot.

The National Screening Unit has approved the pamphlet for districution and Community coordinator Kelly Leha’uli will now be utilising the resource in education sessions with eligible women and their support team.


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