Which interventions increase completion of colorectal cancer screening tests in the United States?
In this sytematic review and meta-analysis of 73 randomized clinical trials, Patient navigation and fecal test outreach had the strongest evidence supporting a significant increase in completion of initial screening; combining interventions (eg, navigation with test outreach) was associated with further increases in screening.
Multicomponent programs, including screening test outreach with as-needed patient navigation, should be implemented to reach national goals for colorectal cancer screening rates.
Colorectal cancer screening (CRC) is recommended by all major US medical organizations but remains underused.
To identify interventions associated with increasing CRC screening rates and their effect sizes.
PubMed, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, the Cochrane Library, and ClinicalTrials.gov were searched from January 1, 1996, to August 31, 2017. Key search terms included colorectal cancer and screening.
Randomized clinical trials of US-based interventions in clinical settings designed to improve CRC screening test completion in average-risk adults.
Data Extraction and Synthesis
At least 2 investigators independently extracted data and appraised each study’s risk of bias. Where sufficient data were available, random-effects meta-analysis was used to obtain either a pooled risk ratio (RR) or risk difference (RD) for screening completion for each type of intervention.
Main Outcomes and Measures
The main outcome was completion of CRC screening. Examination included interventions to increase completion of (1) initial CRC screening by any recommended modality, (2) colonoscopy after an abnormal initial screening test result, and (3) continued rounds of annual fecal blood tests (FBTs).
The main review included 73 randomized clinical trials comprising 366 766 patients at low or medium risk of bias. Interventions that were associated with increased CRC screening completion rates compared with usual care included FBT outreach (RR, 2.26; 95% CI, 1.81-2.81; RD, 22%; 95% CI, 17%-27%), patient navigation (RR, 2.01; 95% CI, 1.64-2.46; RD, 18%; 95% CI, 13%-23%), patient education (RR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.06-1.36; RD, 4%; 95% CI, 1%-6%), patient reminders (RR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.02-1.41; RD, 3%; 95% CI, 0%-5%), clinician interventions of academic detailing (RD, 10%; 95% CI, 3%-17%), and clinician reminders (RD, 13%; 95% CI, 8%-19%). Combinations of interventions (clinician interventions or navigation added to FBT outreach) were associated with greater increases than single components (RR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.09-1.29; RD, 7%; 95% CI, 3%-11%). Repeated mailed FBTs with navigation were associated with increased annual FBT completion (RR, 2.09; 95% CI, 1.91-2.29; RD, 39%; 95% CI, 29%-49%). Patient navigation was not associated with colonoscopy completion after an initial abnormal screening test result (RR, 1.21; 95% CI, 0.92-1.60; RD, 14%; 95% CI, 0%-29%).
Conclusions and Relevance
Fecal blood test outreach and patient navigation, particularly in the context of multicomponent interventions, were associated with increased CRC screening rates in US trials. Fecal blood test outreach should be incorporated into population-based screening programs. More research is needed on interventions to increase adherence to continued FBTs, follow-up of abnormal initial screening test results, and cost-effectiveness and other implementation barriers for more intensive interventions, such as navigation.
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Dougherty MK, Brenner AT, Crockett SD, et al. Evaluation of Interventions Intended to Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening Rates in the United States: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med. 2018;178(12):1645–1658. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.4637
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