Study: Automated Reminders Improve Colorectal Cancer Screening Adherence Among Low-Income, Minority Groups

Automated reminders and follow ups greatly increased adherence to annual colorectal cancer screenings among low-income and minority community groups, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Fecal occult blood testing is a colorectal cancer screening modality that can be completed at home. FOBT must be conducted annually to catch colon cancer before it is too advanced to cure. However, the ability of FOBT to reduce colorectal cancer mortality depends on high rates of adherence to annual screening.

Included in the study were 450 patients who had previously completed a home FOBT from March 2011 through February 2012 and had received a negative test result. Of the 450 patients, 87 percent were Latino and 77 percent were uninsured. The patients were divided into two groups — one that received automated reminders and another that didn't.

The group receiving automated interventions received:

•    A mailed reminder letter, a free fecal immunochemical tests with low-literacy instructions, and a postage-paid return envelope
•    An automated telephone and text message reminding them that they were due for screening and that a FIT was being mailed to them
•    An automated telephone and text reminder two weeks later for those who did not return the FIT
•    Personal telephone outreach by a colorectal cancer screening navigator after three  months

The study found that 82.2 percent of the patients in the intervention group completed the FOBT within six months of the screening due date compared to 37.3 percent of the group that did not receive automated reminders.

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