Colorectal cancer (CRC) screening rates are lower among Latinos and people living in poverty. Fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) is one recommended screening modality that may overcome cost and access barriers. However, the ability of FOBT to reduce CRC mortality depends on high rates of adherence to annual screening.
To determine whether a multifaceted intervention increases adherence to annual FOBT compared with usual care.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Patient-level randomized controlled trial conducted in a network of community health centers. Included were 450 patients who had previously completed a home FOBT from March 2011 through February 2012 and had a negative test result: 72% of participants were women; 87% were Latino; 83% stated that Spanish was their preferred language; and 77% were uninsured.
Usual care at participating health centers included computerized reminders, standing orders for medical assistants to give patients home fecal immunochemical tests (FIT), and clinician feedback on CRC screening rates. The intervention group also received (1) a mailed reminder letter, a free FIT with low-literacy instructions, and a postage-paid return envelope; (2) an automated telephone and text message reminding them that they were due for screening and that a FIT was being mailed to them; (3) an automated telephone and text reminder 2 weeks later for those who did not return the FIT; and (4) personal telephone outreach by a CRC screening navigator after 3 months.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Completion of FOBT within 6 months of the date the patient was due for annual screening.
Intervention patients were much more likely than those in usual care to complete FOBT (82.2% vs 37.3%; P < .001). Of the 185 intervention patients completing screening, 10.2% completed prior to their due date (intervention was not given), 39.6% within 2 weeks (after initial intervention), 24.0% within 2 to 13 weeks (after automated call/text reminder), and 8.4% between 13 and 26 weeks (after personal call).
Conclusions and Relevance
This intervention greatly increased adherence to annual CRC screening; most screenings were achieved without personal calls. It is possible to improve annual CRC screening for vulnerable populations with relatively low-cost strategies that are facilitated by health information technologies.
clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01453894