AHRQ Study: Targeted Patient Outreach Can Increase Colon Cancer Screening
An intensive outreach program targeting vulnerable patients dramatically improved screening rates for colorectal cancer, according to a new AHRQ-funded study published in the June 16 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine. The study indicated that comprehensive outreach programs run through community health centers hold great promise in reducing preventable deaths due to colorectal cancer. The study found that community health center patients who received outreach via mail, automated phone and text messages and calls by a health center staff member were more than twice as likely to complete an at-home colon cancer screening test. This was the case even though most patients in the Chicago-based study were poor and uninsured and had limited English proficiency and low understanding of health information. “Early screening is an important tool in fighting colorectal cancer, but only three-fifths of U.S. adults age 50 to 75 overall are up to date on their screenings—and serious disparities persist by income, education, race/ethnicity and other groups,” said AHRQ Director Richard Kronick, Ph.D. “This report indicates that intense outreach can increase screening and save lives.” Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer for men and women and the second-leading killer among cancers in the United States overall. The study said expanded use of the at-home test, called a fecal occult blood test, may help increase rates of colorectal cancer screening, especially among people who face barriers to colonoscopy. Select to access the AHRQ press release.