Exploring the Acceptability of Text Messages to Inform and Support Shared Decision-making for Colorectal Cancer Screening: Online Panel Survey

JMIR Cancer. 2023 May 5;9:e40917. doi: 10.2196/40917.


Background: While online portals may be helpful to engage patients in shared decision-making at the time of cancer screening, because of known disparities in patient portal use, sole reliance on portals to support cancer screening decision-making could exacerbate well-known disparities in this health care area. Innovative approaches are needed to engage patients in health care decision-making and to support equitable shared decision-making.

Objective: We assessed the acceptability of text messages to engage sociodemographically diverse individuals in colorectal cancer (CRC) screening decisions and support shared decision-making in practice.

Methods: We developed a brief text message program offering educational information consisting of components of shared decision-making regarding CRC screening (eg, for whom screening is recommended, screening test options, and pros/cons of options). The program and postprogram survey were offered to members of an online panel. The outcome of interest was program acceptability measured by observed program engagement, participant-reported acceptability, and willingness to use similar programs (behavioral intent). We evaluated acceptability among historically marginalized categories of people defined by income, literacy, and race.

Results: Of the 289 participants, 115 reported having a low income, 146 were Black/African American, and 102 had less than extreme confidence in their health literacy. With one exception, we found equal or greater acceptability, regardless of measure, within each of the marginalized categories of people compared to their counterparts. The exception was that participants reporting an income below US $50,000 were less likely to engage with sufficient content of the program to learn that there was a choice among different CRC screening tests (difference -10.4%, 95% CI -20.1 to -0.8). Of note, Black/African American participants reported being more likely to sign up to receive text messages from their doctor's office compared to white participants (difference 18.7%, 95% CI 7.0-30.3).

Conclusions: Study findings demonstrate general acceptance of text messages to inform and support CRC screening shared decision-making.

Keywords: cancer; cancer screening; colorectal cancer; health care; mHealth; marginalized groups; shared decision-making; text messages.