What takes place at a screening?
A team of health professionals and other volunteers, led by allergists, determines whether participant's symptoms might be asthma, EIB or nasal allergies. People who screen positive are encouraged to seek a diagnosis. For those previously diagnosed, the screening provides an opportunity to discuss whether their conditions are under control.
- Complete a screening registration form based on the College’s Life Quality (LQ) test.
- Take a lung function test, usually spirometry.
- Meet with an allergist to discuss symptoms and test results.
For those who screen positive, a list of local allergists will be provided.
How many participants might we expect?
The typical number averages between 50 and 75 participants depending on the location, number of screening days, publicity and number of allergists available for the screening. Publicity plays an important role in drawing attendance to screening programs and can reach many thousands more people with educational information about asthma, EIB, nasal allergies and allergists. Tips on obtaining publicity are included in the coordinator’s manual.
What are my responsibilities as a screening program coordinator?
College allergist members who sign up to be a local asthma screening coordinator will oversee all screening program activities – from planning, to selecting a screening site, to publicizing and conducting the program. Although other volunteers, including allergists, health care professionals and patient support groups, can assist with the screening program, only College allergist members qualify as local coordinators for screening programs and must be on site the day of the screening.
Do I, by myself, need to do all the activities associated with a screening program?
No. There are many activities related to planning, publicizing and conducting a screening program, and they should not be done alone. In fact, a screening program offers an opportunity to form partnerships with others in your community who are concerned about asthma and nasal allergies. You can assign volunteers to committees responsible for specific tasks such as:
- Volunteer recruitment
- Site selection and arrangements
- Equipment procurement
- Poster and flier distribution
- News media publicity
- Staff coordination on the screening day
Who can assist with planning and conducting a screening program?
Partnerships can be formed with allergists, other physicians, such as pulmonologists and primary care physicians, patient support organizations, respiratory therapists and other allied health professionals.
- Allergists and other physicians. Allergists and other physicians in your community and surrounding area can be invited to participate in a screening program, helping to plan the event as committee members, conducting screenings on the day of the program and being included in a referral list distributed at the screening program.
- Patient support organizations. The Nationwide Asthma Screening Program is supported by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and Allergy and Asthma Network. If you have a local branch of these national organizations, contact them to determine if they would like to assist. Members can volunteer to secure advance publicity, recruit other volunteers or help staff a registration table on the day of the screening.
- Allied health professionals. Respiratory therapists, nurse clinicians, school nurses and pharmacists are resources you can use in coordinating a screening program. These allied health professionals can distribute promotional flyers, publicize the event in membership newsletters and help staff the screening.
Will I incur costs for coordinating a screening program?
You might have some miscellaneous expenses for things such as photocopying, equipment rental, disposable spirometer mouthpieces and perhaps lunch for screening program volunteers.
However, these out-of-pocket expenses should be minimal. Additional funding for local programs is not available or necessary.
Each screening site coordinator receives a kit of materials for conducting the program.
The coordinator's manual provides comprehensive, step-by-step instructions, timelines, screening protocols, and samples of volunteer recruitment letters, news releases and scripts for public service announcements.
Free materials available for download include:
- Screening registration forms
- Publicity posters
- Asthma education fliers, including the Life Quality (LQ) Test
- An asthma education video that can be viewed by participants as they wait to be screened
How do I secure lung-function equipment for my screening?
Most coordinators use their own equipment or borrow equipment from a local clinic, hospital or respiratory therapist. Some have contacted the local representative of the company whose spirometer is in use in their office to obtain a loan of equipment for their screening program.
When is the best time to hold a screening program?
Screenings can be held any time of year. During May, National Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month, the College conducts national publicity about the screening program which may help draw attendance to your program. Many allergists also have found that fall is a good time for a screening when going back to school and changes in weather often exacerbate symptoms.
Where should a screening program be held?
A high-traffic location is recommended. Some examples are shopping malls, civic centers, hospitals, schools and community health fairs. To reach people who may have EIB, a health club or athletic event might be a good location for a screening. Some coordinators have looked for other innovative sites to reach large groups of people and have selected a book store, zoo, local labor union hall and even the state capitol building as their screening site. Screening coordinators also are bringing asthma screenings into the workplace, conducting programs for employees at corporate headquarters offices and manufacturing plants.
Most screenings are one-day programs, but they also can be conducted on consecutive days, such as over a weekend.
Is my office or clinic an acceptable location for a screening program?
No. A screening program held in a private office or clinic may appear as self-promotion for an individual allergist. The screening program is intended to be a public service on behalf of allergists in the community.
What if more than one allergist in my area signs up?
You register so you and any other allergists can work together on a single program, or coordinate multiple screenings on separate dates or at separate sites in the community. In some communities, combined publicity has been used to promote multiple screening dates or sites.
How much preparation time is needed to plan a screening program?
Beginning two to three months in advance will help ensure the success of a screening program.
The program manual provides a suggested timeline of activities.
How can I ensure people will attend my screening program?
A high-traffic location can be important to good screening program attendance. However, many program coordinators credit publicity with attracting the majority of participants to their screening. Newspapers, television and radio offer opportunities to reach large audiences with information about a screening program and the early detection, accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of asthma. Publicity also can be used to position allergists as medical specialists who treat asthma. Posters and flyers are available to help you promote your event.
I'm an allergist, not a publicist. How will I know how to contact the media?
The screening program manual provides sample materials and detailed instructions on how to work with local media. You may be surprised by how receptive the media are to public service and health information from sources in the community. It is unlikely that you will need to buy advertising to promote a screening program.
How do I get the screening program manual and materials?
Program materials, including the screening program manual and kit are available for download via email once you sign up as a coordinator.