Phone Reminders Up Colorectal Cancer Screening Rate

Increase completion of fecal occult blood testing, especially among those aged 71 to 80
By Beth Gilbert
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, June 22 (HealthDay News) -- An automated telephone intervention appears to increase the completion of fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) for colorectal cancer screening, according to a study published in the July issue of Medical Care.

David M. Mosen, Ph.D., of Kaiser Permanente Northwest in Portland, Ore., and colleagues randomized 5,905 eligible patients, aged 51 to 80 years, at average risk for colorectal cancer and due for screening, to an automated telephone intervention or usual care. The intervention involved three one-minute automated phone calls that described and gave the health benefits of FOBT along with giving patients an opportunity to request that an FOBT kit be mailed to their homes.

The researchers found that 22.5 percent of patients in the intervention group and 16.0 percent in the usual-care group had completed FOBT by six months after call initiation. Compared to those in the usual-care group, individuals in the intervention group were significantly more likely to complete FOBT (hazard ratio, 1.31). In addition, individuals aged 71 to 80 years were more likely to complete FOBT compared to individuals aged 51 to 60 (hazard ratio, 1.48).

"Automated telephone calls increased completion of FOBT," the authors write. "Further research is needed to evaluate automated telephone interventions among diverse populations and in other clinical settings."

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