Breast screening attendance is lower in women with learning disabilities than the general population. Now, an educational film has been produced to increase uptake and help people with learning disabilities understand the importance of having a mammogram.

As breast cancer is the most common cancer type in women in the UK, it is vital that all women attend breast screenings when they are of age to do so. However, women with learning disabilities are not well-informed about breast cancer, with evidence suggesting that only half of women with learning disabilities attend screenings.

Communication between health professionals and people with learning disabilities must therefore be improved to raise awareness of the breast screening process and reduce feelings of fear and anxiety. 

Evidence suggests only half of women with learning disabilities attend screenings

The project was proposed at a board meeting of Avon Breast Screening, and the film was made to be accessible for women with learning disabilities of screening age.

For this reason, the producers involved women with learning disabilities in the film. In this way, they were able to accurately depict their, feelings, fears, and experiences of having a breast screening. 

The film discusses the meaning of breast cancer and breast screening, before going on to explain why it's important to go for the test, what the test involves and the experiences of people who have been for a screening appointment. 

Since it's release, the film has been shared widely and shown nationally (and locally) by screening services. When collecting feedback about the film, 60% of learning disability nurses who watched the film said the film was excellent and 90% said they would recommend it to patients.

The only real limitation identified was the length of the film which is 11 minutes long, as some professionals believe it's too long to hold the attention of the viewer. However, the board have now received funding from PHE to make a shorter version of the film to give the viewer a choice of which film they'd like to watch. 

All women with learning disabilities should feel comfortable accessing screening services 

The producers plan to include a link to the film in their easy-read leaflets, and it will also be shown in learning disability residential homes and day centres in the future.

In this way, Avon Breast Screening aims to raise awareness of breast cancer and breast screening with the hope that eventually all women with learning disabilities feel comfortable accessing the breast screening service.