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Electronic, postal reminders encourage patients to get screenings for colorectal cancer

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Electronic and postal reminders have proven effective at encouraging patients to get colorectal cancer screenings, according to a new study.

The study included 1,103 patients from ages 50 to 75 at a group practice who were overdue for screening. This group received e-mailed reminders containing a link to a Web-based tool to assess their risk for colorectal cancer. Other patients in this study acted as a control group and did not receive a reminder. One month later, 8.3 percent of patients who received reminders submitted to testing while 0.2 percent from the control group did so. After four months, the difference gap lessened considerably: 15.8 percent of reminded participants underwent screening vs. 13.1 percent who did not receive a reminder.

"Further research is needed to understand the most effective ways for patients to use interactive health information technology to improve their care and to reduce the morbidity and mortality of colorectal cancer," wrote Dr. Thomas D. Sequist of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and colleagues.

Another recent study found that similar disease-management programs for diabetic patients reduced glycated hemoglobin levels in those with poor glycemic control more effectively than standard care. These programs included a mix of patient education, psychological intervention, dietary education, self-monitoring and telemedicine.

"We found that the ability of disease managers to start or modify medical treatment was an effective feature of disease-management programs," wrote lead study author Dr. Clément Pimouguet. "This has important implications, because nonadherence to medical treatment is a significant predictor of all-cause mortality and hospital admission among patients with diabetes."

About 639,000 individuals died of colorectal cancers in 2004 in the United States. Colorectal cancer accounts for a majority of cancer fatalities each year, along with cancers of the lung, stomach, liver and breast.

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Review Date: 
December 20, 2010
Last Updated:
December 21, 2010