School Vision Screening Data Informing a County-Based Community Health Needs Assessment
Purpose: The objective of this study was to (I) analyze Arkansas school nurse vision screening data, (II) provide a county-based pediatric vision care need assessment, and (III) evaluate eye care provider workforce in both rural and urban settings to overcome the vision screening follow-up care gap.
Methods: Descriptive statistics and paired t-Tests (p < 0.05) were calculated for the number of students receiving vision screening, number of students referred to an eyecare provider, number of students receiving follow-up vision care, the vision screening referral rate, and follow-up rate for all public and charter schools in the state of Arkansas.
Findings: The mean number of students screened in rural counties (mean +/- SD; 1530.5 +/- 1170.9) was statistically significantly (t-Test 2-tail, p = 0.003) lower than the mean number of students screened in urban counties (7301.10 +/- 7663.45). The referral rate was comparable in rural counties (9.41% +/- 4.95%), compared to urban counties (9.29% +/- 5.16%). Nearly two-thirds of the children who failed their vision screening did not receive a follow-up comprehensive eye exam (rural: 68.26% +/- 17.48%; urban: 66.30% +/- 11.91%). Rural counties had just 1.03 +/- 0.86 eye care providers per 10,000 people, compared to urban counties which had 1.30 +/- 1.11 eye care providers per 10,000 people.
Conclusions: The purpose of school nurses screening children for vision abnormalities is to recognize and treat ailments early to ensure students have the best opportunity to learn. This study unveiled that rural and urban Arkansas school children alike go without follow-up eye care after failing their school vision screening two-thirds of the time. Rural areas have less eye care providers per capita and have a greater burden placed on each eye care provider, however, the follow-up care rate is comparable in rural and urban areas.
Keywords:Rural Eye Care, Amblyopia; Nurse Vision Screening
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