Using quality improvement techniques to increase colon cancer screening

Am J Med. 2009 May;122(5):419-20. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2008.10.029.


Screening has been shown to be effective and cost-effective in reducing the incidence of, and mortality from, colorectal cancer. Despite its demonstrated efficacy, colon cancer screening remains underused, with fewer than 60% of age-eligible adults reporting being up to date with recommended screening tests. Several factors account for the low rates of utilization, including patient, provider and system-related issues. Several interventions have been shown to be effective in overcoming these barriers, including the use of patient decision aids. Patient decision aids are tools designed to provide information to patients about screening options, help them consider the pros and cons of the alternatives, and assist them to reach a decision consistent with their values. The use of decision aids in clinical practice can increase screening rates by up to 14 percentage points. Mailing the decision aids to patients in advance of office visits appears to be a cost-effective means of implementation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Colonoscopy* / economics
  • Colonoscopy* / standards
  • Colonoscopy* / trends
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / economics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / economics
  • Mass Screening / standards*
  • Morbidity / trends
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / methods*
  • Survival Rate / trends
  • United States / epidemiology