Objective: To evaluate a health maintenance organization (HMO)-sponsored intervention to improve cancer screening in private physician practices serving low-income, minority populations.
Design: A randomized controlled trial with preintervention and postintervention measurements. Measurements were obtained by abstracting information from independent random samples of medical charts (N = 2316 at preintervention and 2238 at postintervention).
Setting: Forty-seven primary care physician practices located in low-income and minority urban neighborhoods in Chicago, Ill.
Intervention: Practices were encouraged to adopt an office chart reminder system and to use a patient health maintenance card. Activities to facilitate the adoption of these items and for compliance with cancer screening guidelines included on-site training and start-up assistance visits, a physician continuing medical education seminar, and quality assurance visits with feedback to physicians.
Main outcome measures: The proportions of patients with a chart-documented mammogram, clinical breast examination, Papanicolaou smear, or fecal occult blood slide test in the 2 years before preintervention and postintervention chart abstractions.
Results: Between baseline and postintervention, there was a net increase in the proportion of HMO members in the intervention, compared with the control practices, who received in the preceding 2 years a Papanicolaou smear (11.9%) and a fecal occult blood slide test (14.1%). There was a net increase in the proportion of non-HMO patients in the intervention compared with the control practices who received a clinical breast examination (15.3%) and a fecal occult blood slide test (20.2%).
Conclusions: Implementation of an HMO-mediated, multicomponent intervention to improve cancer screening was feasible and effective for the Papanicolaou smear, fecal occult blood slide test, and the clinical breast examination, but not for mammography.