Background: Timely follow-up of fecal occult blood screening with colonoscopy is essential for achieving colorectal cancer mortality reduction. In the present study, we evaluated the effectiveness of centrally generated, physician-targeted audit and feedback to improve colonoscopy uptake after a positive fecal occult blood test (fobt) result within Ontario's population-wide ColonCancerCheck Program.
Methods: This prospective cohort study used data sets from Ontario's ColonCancerCheck Program (2008-2011) that were linked to provincial administrative health databases. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to estimate the effect of centralized, physician-targeted audit and feedback on colonoscopy uptake in an Ontario-wide fobt-positive cohort.
Results: A mailed physician audit and feedback report identifying individuals outstanding for colonoscopy for 3 or more months after a positive fobt result did not increase the likelihood of colonoscopy uptake (hazard ratio: 0.95; 95% confidence interval: 0.79 to 1.13). Duration of positive fobt status was strongly inversely associated with the hazard of follow-up colonoscopy (p for linear trend: <0.001).
Conclusions: In a large population-wide setting, centralized tracking in the form of physician-targeted mailed audit and feedback reports does not improve colonoscopy uptake for screening participants with a positive fobt result outstanding for 3 or more months. Mailed physician-targeted screening audit and feedback reports alone are unlikely to improve compliance with follow-up colonoscopy in Ontario. Other interventions such as physician audits or automatic referrals, demonstrated to be effective in other jurisdictions, might be warranted.
Keywords: Fecal occult blood test; colonoscopy; colorectal cancer; program evaluation; screening.