Disclosures: Mehta reports receiving grants from the National Cancer Institute. Huf reports no relevant financial disclosures.
February 10, 2021
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Mailed FIT increases CRC screening in underserved populations

Disclosures: Mehta reports receiving grants from the National Cancer Institute. Huf reports no relevant financial disclosures.
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Colorectal cancer screening rates among underserved populations increased among patients who received at-home fecal immunochemical tests, according to study results.

“Colorectal cancer screening rates remain limited in underserved populations, which includes those in the clinic we partnered with,” Shivan J. Mehta MD, chief innovation officer at Penn Medicine, said in a press release. “We saw that there is an opportunity to use text messaging and new insights from behavioral science to increase uptake.”

Researchers sent FIT kits to patients by default (n = 220), unless they opted out, and compared completion rates with a group of patients who received just a single text message as part of regular practice (n = 220). Patients in the FIT arm also received three text message reminders.

The patient cohort was 87.7% Black, 19.1% uninsured and 49.6% with Medicaid.

The primary outcome of the study was participation in CRC screening at 12 weeks. Researchers also assessed FIT kit return rate at 12 weeks.

After 12 weeks, 19.6% of patients in the intervention group participated in CRC screening compared with just 2.3% in the control group (difference 17.3%, P < .001). In terms of FIT kit return, those values were 19.1% and 1.4%, respectively (difference 17.7%, P < .001).

“It is important to note that this is a population at a community health center that may not routinely seek out medical care, especially preventive care, so there is a low baseline screening rate,” Sarah W. Huf, MBBS, PhD, from the Center for Health Care Innovation at the University of Pennsylvania, said in the release. “Future interventions may need to address issues such as reading comprehension and not having a stable place to live.”