Effectiveness of automated and live phone reminders after mailed-FIT outreach in a pilot randomized trial

Prev Med Rep. 2018 Oct 17:12:210-213. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2018.10.012. eCollection 2018 Dec.


The effectiveness of annual mailed fecal immunochemical testing (FIT) outreach is highest when return rates are optimized, which is aided by patient reminders. In a pilot patient-randomized controlled trial in two western Washington clinics of the Sea Mar Community Health Centers, we compared the effectiveness of two phone-based approaches to mailed FIT outreach reminders. In fall 2016, patients ages 50-75, due for colorectal cancer screening, and with a visit in the previous year at either of two clinics, were mailed an introductory letter and FIT. Those who did not return the FIT within 3 weeks (N = 427) were randomized to receive either: a) a series of up to 6 automated phone reminders; or b) the combination of automated and live phone reminders (up to 6 in total). The sole outcome was FIT return within 6 months after the FIT mailing. FIT completion rates were similar in the groups assigned to receive automated calls vs automated plus live calls (40% vs 39%; p = 0.89). The effectiveness of FIT reminder mode differed by language preference (p for interaction = 0.03): among Spanish-preferring patients (n = 106), FIT return rates were higher in the automated-only group than to the auto- plus live-call group (62% vs 39%, p = 0.02). Among English-preferring patients, no difference in modes was observed (n = 279, 32% vs 34%, p = 0.74). We observed no added benefit of live reminder calls in a mailed FIT plus automated call reminder program; our findings may inform efforts to efficiently optimize mailed-FIT outreach programs. ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT01742065.

Keywords: Colorectal neoplasms; Community health centers; Early detection of cancer; Language.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01742065