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Using humour to make it easier to talk about bowel screening – New online training module launched

Bowel screening - online module
27 October 2017

Using humour to make it easier to talk about a difficult subject – New online training to address concerns of Indigenous Health Workers about bowel screening

An interactive online training module has just been released to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers to talk with their patients about bowel screening.

The module, Bowel Screening, no shame – just a part of life, is one component in a broader initiative to encourage more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 to 74 to take part in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP).

Bowel cancer can develop with no obvious signs or symptoms, but if picked up early, around 90% of cases can be treated successfully. Regular bowel screening can pick up changes in the bowel even before they become cancerous.

The participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the NBCSP is low, with just 23.5% of those in the eligible age range taking part.

Menzies School of Health Research has been funded by the Australian Government Department of Health to consult, develop, prepare and deliver a national pilot of an alternative option for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access the NBCSP.

As part of this work, Menzies consulted widely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers, other health professionals, community members, and government and non-government organisations involved in cancer screening and/or primary health care services.

Professor Gail Garvey from Menzies said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers were very clear about what would help them to promote bowel screening to their patients.

‘Health workers wanted to know more about bowel cancer and why it’s important to screen, so they could be confident that they were giving their patients the right information.

‘Some health workers were worried about how to talk to their patients about such a sensitive subject.’

The online module addresses these concerns through animations and hip hop videos as examples of ways to use humour to help make a difficult subject easier to talk about.

Menzies and Indigenous Hip Hop Projects collaborated with four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to write and produce music videos that promote bowel screening. Each community tells the story in their own way: in one video for example an Aboriginal man sings ‘At 52 I checked my poo, not every year but every two.’

The online learning module is free and available for anyone to complete.

Access the module here.

Please note, this version of the module deals with the NBCSP’s usual approach of mailing kits directly to individuals. An updated version of the module will be made available for the proposed National Pilot next year.

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