The National Population Screening Programmes are successful in reaching large parts of the target population. Several factors facilitate the effective implementation of population screening in the Netherlands.
The Netherlands coordinates their screening programmes nationally. With the national coordination, the Dutch government aims to promote the uniformity and the high quality of the screening programmes across the country. In several other European countries, screening programmes are organized regionally. This often leads to intensive screening of participants and screening at a younger age. Besides, the participation rate in countries with a more decentralised organisation tends to be lower.
Mobile screening units
Mobile screening units are used for the breast cancer screening programme. These portable units are placed within communities, and women are invited to have their mammography inside these units. This approach has a favourable effect on the participation rate.
ScreenIT: Central information system
To facilitate high-quality population screening it is important that involved parties can readily exchange data electronically. ScreenIT is an electronic central information system which is used to support the primary cancer screening process. For example to select and invite participants and exchange information between the screening organisations, laboratories etc. Data gathered in ScreenIT is used to evaluate screening programmes and could generate anonymous data sets for scientific research. ScreenIT is currently only used for the Dutch colorectal, breast and cervix cancer screening programmes.
Other factors that contribute to a successful screening programme in the Netherlands are:
- Screening, as well as the follow-up in healthcare, is offered for free for most programmes
- National independent reference centre and independent evaluator
- Organised separately from health care
- National advisory committees, consisting of the involved public and private organisations, advise RIVM on a regular basis.