Climate of fear and lack of understanding surround preventative health screening

Fear of the unknown, cost, and a lack of awareness around preventative health screenings have been revealed as the top three reasons that a staggering one in two (50 percent ) of the Irish public are putting off potentially life-saving tests and checks.

The research findings have been revealed today as part of a major campaign by laya healthcare that aims to heighten awareness of the critical importance of preventative screening and provide the public with useful information around the most important and most relevant health screening at different ages and life stages. A free-to-access educational hub featuring key information and assets is now available at

A screen in time saves lives

The research findings reinforce the important role that screening plays in the early detection and treatment of a wide variety of health conditions. While a large portion of the population are putting off health checks, 80 percent of people understand the importance of preventative healthcare screening.

Of those who have participated in screening, more than a third (32 percent ) identified a condition that they were unaware of. Of these, 55 percent required medical treatment and 38 percent needed to make lifestyle changes. For a quarter of people (25 percent ) who found a condition through screening, the issue could have been terminal if not identified.

Awareness of preventative health screening

Awareness levels amongst the public of certain health screenings are high (including female cancer screenings, blood tests, blood pressure and cholesterol ), but fall to well below 50 percent for other important tests like male cancer screening (39 percent ), bone density scanning (32 percent ), genetic cancer screening (27 percent ), and cardiac screening (44 percent ).

“There are lots of reasons why people choose not to participate in preventative screening but what we see year on year is the power of finding health conditions as early as possible in order to have the best possible outcome. An important first step is educating yourself on what the important checks are for you and how you can begin engaging.

“This can be something as simple as stepping on a weighing scales, having your cardiac check, sharing your family medical history with your GP, or having a simple blood test. Fear of the unknown is natural and something we can all understand but people shouldn’t be afraid of finding something early because that gives us the best opportunity to overcome an issue. By taking the time to look into your health now you are investing in a healthier and brighter future,” Professor Carl Vaughan, Consultant Cardiologist and Lead Cardiologist at Advanced Medical Services, said.

When it comes to knowing the appropriate health screenings that the public should be accessing at different stages and ages, awareness levels are worryingly low. A perceived lack of access is one of the main barriers to people taking part in screening with 18 percent saying that this is the key thing stopping them from going and getting checked.

While 53 percent of people aged 18-24 are aware of the importance of female cancer screening, only one third are aware that they should also be taking part in BMI screening at that age.

Similarly, despite cardiac screening being recommended from the age of 12 upwards, awareness levels are low in younger age groups with only 32 percent of people aged 18–35 aware of its availability and importance.

COVID-19 Impact

Unsurprisingly the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing barriers and has added a new dimension to the fear that is acting as a barrier to public participation. Nearly a quarter (24 percent ) of people have been less willing to attend screenings due to the ongoing pandemic with 39 percent stating that they are afraid of attending the hospital due to Covid-19.


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