Complete diagnostic evaluation in colorectal cancer screening: research design and baseline findings

Prev Med. 2001 Oct;33(4):249-60. doi: 10.1006/pmed.2001.0878.


Background: While indicated by guidelines, complete diagnostic evaluation, or CDE (i.e., colonoscopy or combined flexible sigmoidoscopy plus barium enema X ray), is often not recommended and performed for persons with an abnormal screening fecal occult blood test (FOBT) result. We initiated a randomized trial to assess the impact of a physician-oriented intervention on CDE rates in primary care practices.

Methods: In 1998, we identified 1,184 primary care physicians (PCPs) in 584 practices whose patients received FOBTs that are mailed annually by a managed care organization screening program. A total of 470 PCPs in 318 practices completed a baseline survey. Practices were randomly assigned either to a Control Group (N = 198) or to an Intervention Group (N = 120). Control Group practices received the screening program. Intervention Group practices received the screening program and the intervention (i.e., CDE reminder-feedback plus educational outreach). Practice CDE recommendation and performance rates are the primary outcomes to be measured in the study.

Results: Baseline CDE recommendation and performance rates were low and were comparable in Control and Intervention Group practices (54 to 57% and 39 to 40%, respectively). PCPs in the practices tended to view FOBT screening and CDE favorably, but had concerns about screening efficacy, time involved in CDE, and patient discomfort and adherence. Control Group physicians were more likely than Intervention Group physicians to believe that a mail-out FOBT screening program helps in the practice of medicine.

Conclusions: We were able to enroll a high proportion of targeted primary care practices, measure practice characteristics and CDE rates at baseline, and develop and implement the intervention. Study outcome analyses will take into account baseline differences in practice characteristics.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Barium Sulfate
  • Colonoscopy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / methods*
  • Enema
  • Female
  • Health Services Research / methods
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Jersey
  • Occult Blood
  • Pennsylvania
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Reminder Systems*
  • Research Design
  • Sigmoidoscopy


  • Barium Sulfate