Electronic messages to patients to promote colon cancer screening

January 01, 0001

Electronic messages to patients to promote colon cancer screening

These US authors conducted a randomized controlled trial in 14 ambulatory health centers involving 1103 patients ranging in age from 50 to 75 years with an active electronic personal health record who were overdue for colorectal cancer screening. Patients were randomly assigned to receive a single electronic message highlighting overdue screening status with a link to a Web-based tool to assess their personal risk of colorectal cancer. The outcomes included colorectal cancer screening rates at 1 and 4 months.

They found: "Screening rates were higher at 1 month for patients who received electronic messages than for those who did not (8.3% vs 0.2%), but this difference was no longer significant at 4 months (15.8% vs 13.1%). Of 552 patients randomized to receive the intervention, 296 (54%) viewed the message, and 47 (9%) used the Web-based risk assessment tool. Among 296 intervention patients who viewed the electronic message, risk tool users were more likely than nonusers to request screening examinations (17% vs 4%) and to be screened (30% vs 15%). One-fifth of patients (19%) using the risk assessment tool were estimated to have an above-average risk for colorectal cancer."

The authors concluded: "Electronic messages to patients produce an initial increase in colorectal cancer screening rates, but this effect is not sustained over time."

The public as a whole has not bought into the need for colon cancer screening.

For the full abstract, click here.

Arch Intern Med 71(7):636-641, 11 April 2011
© 2011 to the American Medical Association
Electronic Patient Messages to Promote Colorectal Cancer Screening-A Randomized Controlled Trial. Thomas D. Sequist, Alan M. Zaslavsky, Graham A. Colditz, John Z. Ayanian. Correspondence to Dr. Sequist: [email protected]

Category: D. Digestive, HSR. Health Services Research. Keywords: colorectal cancer screening, electronic messaging, patient reminders, randomized controlled trial, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Linda French, Toledo, Ohio. Posted on Global Family Doctor 29 April 2011

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