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'Jade Goody effect' encouraged screening

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Wall-to-wall coverage of celebrities’ struggles with health problems can encourage people to attend screening programmes, research has claimed.

A report by Warwick Medical School found that media coverage of reality TV star Jade Goody’s fight against cervical cancer had the effect of reversing a decline in the number of people showing up for screening appointments.

The research, published in the Journal of Public Health, followed coverage of Goody’s illness from her diagnosis in 2008 to shortly after her death in March 2009, finding that year-on-year take-up in screening among those aged 25-64 increased from 77.85% in 2008 to 78.94% in 2009.

Report author David Metcalfe said: “Although this percentage increase in screening figures appears to be quite modest, millions of screenings take place so we are actually looking at an increase of around 100,000 screenings.

“The reversal of the downward trend is the most significant element as figures had been steadily falling since 2002.

“Our study suggests that Jade Goody’s diagnosis and death led to an increase in the number of people looking for information about cervical cancer and screening.”

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