Submission Type

Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Exemplars



Although shared decision making is recommended for cancer screening, it is not routinely completed in practice because of time constraints. We evaluated a process for improving decision making about colorectal cancer (CRC) screening using mailed decision aids (DA) with follow-up telephone support in primary care practices.


We identified patients aged 50-75 who were not up to date with CRC screening in three primary care practices. DA were distributed via mail with telephone follow-up to eligible patients, and charts were reviewed six months later for CRC screening completion.


Among 1,064 eligible patients who received the mailed DA, 513 (48.2%) were reached by phone. During the six months after the intervention, 148/1064 (13.9%) patients were screened for CRC (4.8% underwent FIT, 9.1% underwent colonoscopy). Younger patients (aged 50-54) had higher rates of any screening (32.4%) compared with all other age groups (range 12.8%-19.6%), p=0.026, while Medicaid patients had the lowest rates of screening (4.0%), and insured patients had the highest rates (45.3%), p=0.003. Overall, 113/513 (22.0%) who were reached by phone went on to complete screening within 6 months, compared with 35/551 (6.4%) of patients who were not reached by phone (p


A standard process for identifying patients unscreened for CRC and DA distribution via mail with telephone decision support modestly increased CRC screening and is consistent with the goal of providing preference-sensitive care and informed decision making. Improving care processes to include decision support outside of office visits is possible in primary care practices.



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