Methods of Health Screening & Early Detection

Instructor: Alyssa Campbell

Alyssa is an active RN and teaches Nursing and Leadership university courses. She also has a Doctorate in Nursing Practice and a Master's in Business Administration.

People seek ways to prevent illness through health promotion and early detection. Read this lesson to learn what methods individuals can use to detect diseases early and increase their chances of a full recovery.

Health Screening and Early Detection

Health professionals continue to seek ways to decrease morbidity (rate of illness) and mortality (rate of death due to illness) to reduce the strain of disease on our healthcare system and to enable people to live longer and healthier lives. Even though individuals can live well into their seventies and eighties in countries around the world, many individuals experience one or several complex illnesses during the course of their lives.

Methods of health screening and early detection are primary prevention strategies that can be taught by healthcare professionals to allow individuals to self-monitor their health in between doctor's appointments and regularly scheduled check-ups. With the use of health screening, people may be able to identify disease in the absence of bothersome symptoms, despite feeling healthy.

How Screening Keeps You Healthy

Shirley is a community health nurse who frequently partners with physician practices and the local hospital to provide education and informational materials to the public. Shirley focuses on primary prevention strategies, like health screening and early detection, because she knows that screening is paramount in the early detection of disease. This means that when a disease is detected in its early stages, the individual has a greater chance at recovery, and the disease could require less time, money, and medical resources to manage.

Shirley is coordinating a community health fair in the hospital auditorium this spring and needs to decide what screening and detection strategies she will present to the public. Shirley conducts a community needs assessment and holds a meeting with several physicians and nurses from doctors' offices. She also invites a few key clinicians from the local hospital.

Health fair booth about cancer screening
Health Fair

She learns that community members are struggling with self-screening and that morbidity rates of cancer have increased. Shirley decides that the health fair will best benefit the community through the use of a guest speaker to highlight important facts related to how screening and early detection keeps you healthier longer. She also plans to have several stations set up to provide one-on-one education and demonstration to individuals hoping to learn self-screening techniques.

Keeping Regular Doctor's Appointments

Shirley also asks the guest speaker to highlight the importance of maintaining regular visits to the physician, dentist, and specialist as recommended. Many diseases go undetected without regular blood work, internal exams, pathology, and inspection.

For example, tooth cavities may progress for long periods of time without pain or sensitivity. Without regular check-ups to the dentist, cavities may go undetected, leading to more complex care to remedy the issue and generally causing more pain for the patient. Even further, female gynecological exams allow the physician to internally inspect and assess organs like the cervix and uterus, which can be high risk for certain types of cancer and disease. Because these organs are internal, they would require great progression in the disease process before symptoms prompt the individual to seek care.

Shirley knows that sharing examples like these will really encourage people to keep their regular appointments even when they feel healthy. She wants everyone to know that methods of screening and early detection could save the lives of people they love!

Self-Screening Exams

Shirley has her team set up stations to teach individuals how to perform self-exams. This way, community members can learn how to play an active role in the early detection of illness while waiting for an appointment.

Breast Exam
Breast Exam

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