Utah Public Health Workers Tackle Low Breast Cancer Screening Rate

Article excerpt

UTAH PUBLIC health workers are calling on women to "just go" and get screened for breast cancer.

Launched in early April, the Utah Department of Health's new Just Go campaign is aimed at turning around the state's low breast cancer screening rate. The statewide media campaign includes TV and print ads, radio spots, billboards and mass transit ads targeting women ages 40 and older. According to 2008 data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Utah has one of the lowest breast screening rates in the nation, with about 68 percent of women ages 40 and older receiving a mammogram within the last two years. That means Utah is home to the nation's second lowest breast cancer screening rate in the nation, the state's health department reported.

"We know how busy most women can be, and the new campaign is really about women making time to take care of themselves and schedule their mammograms," said Melanie Wallentine, MPH, media coordinator and health program specialist with the Utah Department of Health. "We believe the campaign will spark dialogue among women about the importance of getting screened and encourage them to make that appointment."

While previous campaigns targeted women who qualify for Utah's free or low-cost breast cancer screening program, the Just Go campaign is speaking to all Utah women ages 40 and older, regardless of insurance status, Wallentine said. Efforts began in 2010 with focus groups and surveys. A theme emerged among focus group members to emphasize the importance of early detection and encourage women to take the time to take care for their health, Wallentine told The Nation's Health.

Reasons for Utah's low screening rate are not conclusive, but Wallentine said the three top reasons that surfaced during focus groups were cost, feeling that a mammogram was not needed and simply putting it off. Brett Parkinson, MD, imaging director of breast care services at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City and an advisor to the health department, noted that "we have large families here in Utah and because of that, women can get distracted with family and work . …