Online narratives and peer support for colorectal cancer screening: A pilot randomized trial

Department of Internal Medicine and the University of Texas-Memorial Hermann Center for Healthcare Quality and Safety, University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Electronic address: .
American journal of preventive medicine (Impact Factor: 4.53). 07/2013; 45(1):98-107. DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2013.02.024
Source: PubMed


Delivering personal narratives and peer support for CRC screening in an online weight-loss community could be an efficient approach to engaging individuals at increased risk, because obesity is associated with excess colorectal cancer (CRC) mortality and lower screening rates.
Evaluate user engagement and impact of narratives and peer support for promoting CRC screening in an online weight-loss community.
Pilot randomized trial.
Members of an online weight-loss community who were not up-to-date with CRC screening were enrolled in the study in 2011.
Basic and Enhanced groups (n=153 each) both received education. The Enhanced group also received narratives and peer support for CRC screening in online forums.
The main measures were user engagement, psychosocial outcomes, and self-report CRC screening at 6 months. Analyses were conducted with (1) the full sample of participants and (2) a minimum dose sample of those who participated in their assigned intervention to a minimum degree. Analyses were completed in 2012.
Participants were mostly female (92%) with a mean age of 56 years. More than 90% in both groups viewed the educational information. Only 57% in the Enhanced group joined the online team. The Enhanced group had greater improvement in motivation for screening than the Basic group at 1 month (p=0.03). In the full sample, there was no difference in CRC screening at 6 months (Enhanced 19% vs Basic 16%, adjusted OR=1.33, 95% CI=0.73, 2.42). In the minimum dose sample, fecal occult blood testing was higher in the Enhanced (14%) vs Basic (7%) group (adjusted OR=2.49, 95% CI=1.01, 6.17).
Although no between-group differences in CRC screening were seen at 6 months, this study did demonstrate that it is feasible to deploy a narrative and peer support intervention for CRC screening in a randomized trial among members of an online community. However, modifications are needed to improve user engagement.
This study is registered at NCT01411826.

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