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Colonoscopy Attendance Improved by Peer Support

Reluctant patients are more likely to keep appointments when called by experienced peers

FRIDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- The odds that patients who are prone to missing doctors' appointments will show up for their first scheduled colonoscopy can be significantly increased if they are called before the appointment by a peer group coach, researchers report in the January issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Barbara J. Turner, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, and colleagues identified 275 patients, 50 years old and older, in four urban primary care practices, who had frequently missed scheduled appointments. Telephone interviews determined, on a scale of one to 10, subjects' readiness to attend first colonoscopy appointments. Participants determined to be in need of support were randomized to receive either coaching calls from a peer within two weeks of the appointment or two brochures presenting information on colonoscopy. Three older patients who had previously received colonoscopies received training and served as peer coaches.

Compared with patients in the brochure group, patients who received peer coach support had more than twofold greater adjusted odds ratios of attending their scheduled colonoscopies, as did patients who had been determined to not need additional support. The peer coach support was endorsed as helpful by 80 percent of patients who received it.

"If confirmed in other settings, payers and providers should consider adopting peer coach support with the ultimate goal of reducing unnecessary morbidity and mortality from colorectal cancer," the authors conclude.

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