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Colorectal Screening Reminders May Be Useful

Appear to increase screening rates modestly, though effect may not be sustained over time

FRIDAY, Dec. 17 (HealthDay News) -- The use of colorectal cancer screening reminders may be effective in getting people to be screened, according to research published online Dec. 13 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In one study, Thomas D. Sequist, M.D., M.P.H., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,103 patients aged 50 to 75 who were overdue for colorectal cancer screening. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive or not receive an electronic reminder message. At one month, screening rates were higher for those who received the message (8.3 versus 0.2 percent), but at four months the difference wasn't significant. About half (54 percent) who received the message viewed it.

In another study, Kenzie A. Cameron, Ph.D., M.P.H., of Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues analyzed data from 628 subjects aged 50 to 79 who had an expired order for screening colonoscopy. They were randomized to usual care or to receive a reminder letter, a brochure, a DVD about colorectal cancer, and a phone call. Screening rates at three months were 9.9 percent in the intervention group versus 3.2 percent in the control group. At six months, rates were 18.2 and 12.1 percent, respectively.

"At present, health systems could reasonably choose to begin screening promotion with low-cost interventions like simple mailings followed by more expensive, but potentially more effective interventions such as one-on-one patient navigation or interventions aimed at eliminating structural barriers for patients who remain unscreened," Cameron and colleagues conclude.

Abstract - Sequist
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Abstract - Cameron
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