Rapid review of evaluation of interventions to improve participation in cancer screening services

J Med Screen. 2017 Sep;24(3):127-145. doi: 10.1177/0969141316664757. Epub 2016 Oct 17.


Objective Screening participation is spread differently across populations, according to factors such as ethnicity or socioeconomic status. We here review the current evidence on effects of interventions to improve cancer screening participation, focussing in particular on effects in underserved populations. Methods We selected studies to review based on their characteristics: focussing on population screening programmes, showing a quantitative estimate of the effect of the intervention, and published since 1990. To determine eligibility for our purposes, we first reviewed titles, then abstracts, and finally the full paper. We started with a narrow search and expanded this until the search yielded eligible papers on title review which were less than 1% of the total. We classified the eligible studies by intervention type and by the cancer for which they screened, while looking to identify effects in any inequality dimension. Results The 68 papers included in our review reported on 71 intervention studies. Of the interventions, 58 had significant positive effects on increasing participation, with increase rates of the order of 2%-20% (in absolute terms). Conclusions Across different countries and health systems, a number of interventions were found more consistently to improve participation in cancer screening, including in underserved populations: pre-screening reminders, general practitioner endorsement, more personalized reminders for non-participants, and more acceptable screening tests in bowel and cervical screening.

Keywords: Breast cancer; cancer screening; cervical cancer; colorectal cancer; ethnicity; intervention; participation; reminder; review; socioeconomic status; uptake.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Early Detection of Cancer / standards*
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Participation*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Registries
  • Sweden / epidemiology