Background: This study was designed to quantify the resources used in reestablishing contact with women who missed their scheduled cervical cancer screening visits and to assess the success of this effort in reducing loss to follow-up in a developing country setting.
Methods: Women were enrolled in this Cape Town, South Africa-based screening study between 2000 and 2003, and all had scheduled follow-up visits in 2003. Community health worker (CHW) time, vehicle use, maintenance, and depreciation were estimated from weekly logs and cost accounting systems. The percentage of women who attended their scheduled visit, those who attended after CHW contact(s), and those who never returned despite attempted contact(s) were determined. The number of CHW visits per woman was also estimated.
Results: 3,711 visits were scheduled in 2003. Of these, 2,321 (62.5%) occurred without CHW contact, 918 (24.8%) occurred after contact(s), and 472 (12.7%) did not occur despite contact(s). Loss to follow-up was reduced from 21% to 6%, 39% to 10%, and 50% to 24% for 6, 12, and 24-month visits. CHWs attempted 3,200 contacts in 530 trips. On average, 3 CHWs attempted to contact 6 participants over each 111 minute trip. The per-person cost (2003 Rand) for these activities was 12.75, 24.92, and 40.50 for 6, 12, and 24-month visits.
Conclusion: CHW contact with women who missed scheduled visits increased their return rate. Cost-effectiveness analyses aimed at policy decisions about cervical cancer screening in developing countries should incorporate these findings.