A randomized controlled trial to increase cancer screening among attendees of community health centers

Ann Fam Med. Jul-Aug 2004;2(4):294-300. doi: 10.1370/afm.101.


Background: We assessed the efficacy of the Cancer Screening Office Systems (Cancer SOS), an intervention designed to increase cancer screening in primary care settings serving disadvantaged populations.

Methods: Eight primary care clinics participating in a county-funded health insurance plan in Hillsborough County, Fla, agreed to take part in a cluster-randomized experimental trial. The Cancer SOS had 2 components: a cancer-screening checklist with chart stickers that indicated whether specific cancer-screening tests were due, ordered, or completed; and a division of office responsibilities to achieve high screening rates. Established patients were eligible if they were between the ages of 50 and 75 years and had no contraindication for screening. Data abstracted from charts of independent samples collected at baseline (n = 1,196) and at a 12-month follow-up (n = 1,237) was used to assess whether the patient was up-to-date on one or more of the following cancer-screening tests: mammogram, Papanicolaou (Pap) smear, or fecal occult blood testing (FOBT).

Results: In multivariate analysis that controlled for baseline screening rates, secular trends, and other patient and clinic characteristics, the intervention increased the odds of mammograms (odds ratio [OR] = 1.62, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.07-9.78, P = .023) and fecal occult blood tests (OR = 2.5, 95% CI, 1.65-4.0, P <.0001) with a trend toward greater use of Pap smears (OR = 1.57, 95% CI, 0.92-2.64, P = .096).

Conclusions: The Cancer SOS intervention significantly increased rates of cancer screening among primary care clinics serving disadvantaged populations. The Cancer SOS intervention is one option for providers or policy makers who wish to address cancer related health disparities.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Community Health Centers*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Forms and Records Control / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mammography
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Medical Records*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Occult Blood
  • Papanicolaou Test
  • Reminder Systems
  • Vaginal Smears
  • Vulnerable Populations