Informed patients more likely to take colorectal cancer screening test

28 February 2013

Colorectal cancer patients who are given information tools to help them decide whether to have a colorectal cancer screening test are more likely to request the procedure, finds a  study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The study included 825 primary care patients 50 to 75 years old with no symptoms and an average risk of colon cancer. One group viewed a decision-aid video on the benefits and methods of colorectal cancer screening or the video plus a personalized risk assessment tool with feedback. The number of patients who completed a colorectal cancer screening test was about 8% higher for those in the decision aid group compared with the control group (43.1 vs. 34.8%, respectively) — which the researchers considered to be a “moderate impact” on colon cancer screening.

“Although decision-support tools such as ours have gained popularity, actual implementation into clinical practice has lagged because of perceived barriers related to the disruption of workflow in the clinic, time and potential costs,” said lead author Dr Paul Schroy, professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.

“Decision aids are particularly useful when there is not a clear right or wrong treatment choice,” explained Dr Jennifer McClure, associate director of research at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle. “They can help patients make decisions that are well aligned with their personal values and health goals in the face of competing options, each of which has pros and cons.” Decision aids are designed to complement rather than replace counselling from physicians.

Dr Schroy said the challenge still remains to convince providers to implement decision aids into their practices outside of the context of a clinical trial. “Until such time that the barriers can be addressed, we assume that physicians are more likely to utilize the more traditional, albeit less effective, verbal discussion,” he said.

Source: The Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health.


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