Key considerations in designing a patient navigation program for colorectal cancer screening

Health Promot Pract. 2014 Jul;15(4):483-95. doi: 10.1177/1524839913513587. Epub 2013 Dec 19.


Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer mortality among those cancers affecting both men and women. Screening is known to reduce mortality by detecting cancer early and through colonoscopy, removing precancerous polyps. Only 58.6% of adults are currently up-to-date with colorectal cancer screening by any method. Patient navigation shows promise in increasing adherence to colorectal cancer screening and reducing health disparities; however, it is a complex intervention that is operationalized differently across institutions. This article describes 10 key considerations in designing a patient navigation intervention for colorectal cancer screening based on a literature review and environmental scan. Factors include (1) identifying a theoretical framework and setting program goals, (2) specifying community characteristics, (3) establishing the point(s) of intervention within the cancer continuum, (4) determining the setting in which navigation services are provided, (5) identifying the range of services offered and patient navigator responsibilities, (6) determining the background and qualifications of navigators, (7) selecting the method of communications between patients and navigators, (8) designing the navigator training, (9) defining oversight and supervision for the navigators, and (10) evaluating patient navigation. Public health practitioners can benefit from the practical perspective offered here for designing patient navigation programs.

Keywords: colorectal cancer screening; patient navigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Communication
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needs Assessment
  • Patient Navigation / organization & administration*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Socioeconomic Factors