Do free health screenings work?

    Parking lots at CVS stores around the Philadelphia region will turn into mini health clinics for a day this summer.

    Eighty CVS pharmacies in the region will offer free screening events for diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. Such offers are fairly common — but do people seek follow-up care after the event is over?

    The free screenings at CVS are specifically targeted toward African American communities.

    Reid: Because we notice in those communities that they are at higher risk for chronic diseases, especially those that we’ll be testing for.

    Eric Reid is a pharmacist at the CVS in Center City Philadelphia. People can get free screenings for diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, and vision. Access to health care is thought to play a role in such health disparities, which means follow up care can be difficult to obtain.

    Richard Wender, the chair of family and community medicine at Thomas Jefferson University, says long term benefits for free screening events are usually pretty disappointing. For one, many people who come to screenings are often already health conscious.

    Wender: And then the second problem that prevents them from being more effective is that sometimes a problem is found but it’s scary to the person and they don’t take the next steps that they need to do.

    Reid says CVS staff will be there to check people’s medication and give them information on ways to receive free or discounted healthcare locally.

    Reid: We’ll also have physicians on site to help people actually interpret the results they get from the screening so they can go about making any changes to reduce their amount of risk.

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