Journal of General Internal Medicine, 33(1):72-78, Journal of General Internal Medicine, 2018. Paper abstract bibtex
BACKGROUND The Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends multi-component interventions, including patient reminders, to improve uptake of colorectal cancer screening. OBJECTIVE We sought to compare the effectiveness of different forms of reminders for a direct-mail fecal immunochemical test (FIT) program. DESIGN Patient-randomized controlled trial. PARTICIPANTS 2772 adults aged 50-75, not up to date with colorectal cancer screening recommendations, with a clinic visit in the previous year at any of four participating health center clinics. INTERVENTION Participants were mailed an introductory letter and FIT. Those who did not complete their FIT within 3 weeks were randomized to receive (1) a reminder letter, (2) two automated phone calls, (3) two text messages, (4) a live phone call, (5) a reminder letter and a live phone call, (6) two automated phone calls and a live phone call, or (7) two text messages and a live phone call. Patients with a patient portal account were sent two email reminders, but were not randomized. MAIN MEASURES FIT return rates for each group, 6 months following randomization. KEY RESULTS A total of 255 (10%) participants returned their FIT within 3 weeks of the mailing. Among randomized participants (n = 2010), an additional 25.5% returned their FITs after reminders were delivered (estimated overall return rate = 32.7%). In intention-to-treat analysis, compared to the group allocated to receive a reminder letter, return rates were higher for the group assigned to receive the live phone call (OR = 1.51 [1.03-2.21]) and lower for the group assigned to receive text messages (OR = 0.66 [0.43-0.99]). Reminder effectiveness differed by language preference. CONCLUSIONS Our data suggest that FIT reminders that included a live call were more effective than reminders that relied solely on written communication (a text message or letter). TRIAL REGISTRATION ClinicalTrials.gov/ctc2/show/NCT01742065 .