Nurse practitioners already engaged in colorectal cancer screening can further improve the rates of screening, according to a survey conducted in a partnership with the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
Despite finding that nurse practitioners already encourage CRC screening for their patients, as well as high rates of screening among nurse practitioners themselves, the survey also showed that there is room for improvement, according to Thomas A. Mackey, PhD, RN, FAAN, professor of clinical nursing at the University of Texas Health Science Center Cizik School of Nursing and member of the AANP.
“Nurse practitioners are engaged in colorectal cancer screening,” Mackey told Healio Gastroenterology and Liver Disease. “But one of the things we also found is that there needs to be in increased awareness of other options for [CRC] screening than just colonoscopy and just fecal occult blood test. Those are some opportunities that this survey brought out.”
The HealthyWomen’s National Colorectal Cancer SNAPP (Screening Knowledge and Practice Patterns) Survey comprised responses from 358 nurse practitioners.
The survey revealed that nurse practitioners are highly engaged in promoting CRC screening among their patients. Almost all the respondents reported prescribing colonoscopy (99%) or fecal occult blood tests (78%) for their patients. Most of the nurse practitioners also reported routinely discussing CRC screening with their eligible patients (79%).
The survey showed that 91% of nurse practitioners older than 50 years underwent CRC screening, and 93% of responders younger than 50 years reported undergoing CRC screening would be a priority once they turned 50 years.
However, less than two-thirds of the nurse practitioners reported that their patients often or always comply with their screening recommendations. Mackey said that percentage mirrored national screening averages.
Despite their familiarity with colonoscopy and fecal occult blood tests, the survey found that nurse practitioners were less familiar with multitarget stool DNA tests such as Cologuard (Exact Sciences).
“We know that if patients are given choices, they are more likely to complete [CRC] screening,” Mackey said. “If we’re not telling them all of the choices, then we can expect lower results. Once we know about other choices with better completion rates, I think we can bring that number up significantly. ... The survey certainly showed that there’s great room for improvement.”
With further education, awareness and practice improvement, Mackey thinks nurse practitioners are well-suited to help improve CRC screening rates for their patients.
“We are positioned uniquely in the health care system to increase [CRC] screening rates because of our emphasis on care, on prevention,” he said. “The medical model really doesn’t have that same emphasis on prevention.”– by Alex Young
Disclosures: Mackey reports that he will receive speaking fees from Exact Sciences.