Send to

Choose Destination
Cancer. 2019 Jul 29. doi: 10.1002/cncr.32398. [Epub ahead of print]

Follow-up approaches to a health literacy intervention to increase colorectal cancer screening in rural community clinics: A randomized controlled trial.

Author information

Department of Medicine, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-Shreveport, Shreveport, Louisiana.
Department of Preventive Medicine, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois.
College of Nursing and Health, Loyola University New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Teche Action Clinic, Franklin, Louisiana.



Significant disparities exist in colorectal cancer (CRC) screening rates among those of low socioeconomic status, with fewer years of education, lacking health insurance, or living in rural areas.


A randomized controlled trial was conducted to compare the effectiveness of 2 follow-up approaches to a health literacy intervention to improve CRC screening: automated telephone call or personal call. Patients aged 50 to 75 years residing in 4 rural community clinics in Louisiana were given a structured interview that assessed demographic, health literacy and CRC screening barriers, knowledge, and attitudes. All were given health literacy-informed CRC education, a patient-friendly CRC screening pamphlet, simplified fecal immunochemical test (FIT) instructions, and a FIT kit, and a "teach-back" method was used to confirm understanding. Patients were randomized to 1 of 2 telephone follow-up arms. If they did not mail their FIT kit within 4 weeks, they received a reminder call and were called again at 8 weeks if the test still was not received.


A total of 620 patients were enrolled. Approximately 55% were female, 66% were African American, and 40% had limited literacy. The overall FIT completion rate was 68%: 69.2% in the automated telephone call arm and 67% in the personal call arm. Greater than one-half of the patients (range, 58%-60%) returned the FIT kit without receiving a telephone call. There was no difference noted with regard to the effectiveness of the follow-up calls; each increased the return rate by 9%.


Providing FIT kits and literacy-appropriate education at regularly scheduled clinic visits with a follow-up telephone call when needed was found to increase CRC screening among low-income, rural patients. The lower cost automated call was just as effective as the personal call.


colorectal cancer screening; disparities; health literacy; prevention; randomized controlled trial; rural community clinics


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center