Vision screening in New Zealand pre-school children: Is it equitable?

Rebecca Findlay, Lisa Hamm, Nicola Anstice, Carol Chelimo, Cameron C. Grant, Nicholas Bowden, Jesse Kokaua, Joanna Black

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Aim: This study aimed to investigate the variability by ethnicity, socio-economic status and location in coverage and testability of the universal B4 School Check vision screening in children aged 4–5 years in New Zealand. Methods: Aggregated data from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2015 were sourced from the Statistics New Zealand Integrated Data Infrastructure. Sourced data were attendance at vision screening and record of visual acuity measurement stratified by ethnicity, socio-economic status and region. Children who attended screening were compared with the eligible population (n = 252 279) to calculate coverage. Testability was determined by comparing the children with a recorded visual acuity measurement in each eye with those who attended screening. Results: Overall vision screening coverage was 89.5% and testability was 97.8%. Ethnic differences were evident for coverage (85.7% in Pacific children, 92.5% in European children) and testability (96.4% in Māori children, 98.4% in European children). Socio-economic differences were also observed for coverage (86.4% in most deprived areas, 92.4% in least deprived), testability (most deprived 96.3%, least deprived 98.7%) and by region (coverage range of 80.4–96.4% and testability range of 93.2–99.3%). Conclusions: Significant disparities exist in vision screening coverage and testability for New Zealand pre-school children. Equity-focused initiatives are required to improve outcomes for children from Māori and Pacific families, and those from households in lower socio-economic areas. Understanding region-specific challenges and successes could support more equitable access to vision screening between regions. Further research is required to determine sources of inequities and to investigate interactions between ethnicity, socio-economic status and location.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Early online date10 May 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 May 2021

Keywords

  • child
  • ethnic group
  • New Zealand
  • pre-school
  • socio-economic factor
  • vision screening

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