Wednesday, March 19, 2014

New model for colon cancer screening

Colon cancer screening rates went up by nearly 40% in a Kaiser Permanente study that mailed test kits to patients' homes. The findings are to be published in the journal BMC Cancer.

The study involved 869 patients registered with three community health clinics in metropolitan areas in Portland, Oregon. Most of the patients in the health clinics were Latinos living below the poverty line and around half of them had no health insurance.

The researchers arranged for an introductory letter - in English and Spanish - explaining the home test kit and colorectal cancer screening, to be mailed to 112 patients with one of the clinics. This letter was followed 2 weeks later with a mailed stool test kit. If the tests weren't returned within 3 weeks, the patients received reminder postcards.

For the second clinic, 101 patients received the same mailings over the same timescale: the letter, then the test kit and then the reminder postcard. Except, in this case, if test kits weren't returned within a month, the patients also got a reminder phone call.

With the third clinic, the researchers enlisted 656 patients as controls. These did not receive a stool test kit by mail, but they had the option of having a screening test as part of routine visits to the clinic.

Only 1% of the controls had completed a stool test, compared with 39% of the patients who received tests in the mail, and 37% who were also reminded by phone.

No comments: