Referring patients for telephone counseling to promote colorectal cancer screening.
ABSTRACT Objective: To determine the feasibility, acceptability, and outcomes of a telephone counseling intervention promoting colorectal cancer (CRC) screening when patients are referred for counseling by primary care providers (PCPs). Study Design: Interventional cohort study with no formal control group. Methods: PCPs in 3 practices were prompted to address CRC screening in patient encounters and, if appropriate, to recommend referral for telephone counseling. A telephone counselor called referred patients, made an appointment for a counseling call, and mailed an educational booklet to patients. Counseling included education about CRC and screening tests, motivational interviewing, barrier counseling, and facilitated referral for colonoscopy or mailing of a fecal occult blood testing kit. About 7 months following counseling, electronic records were searched for evidence of colonoscopy. Results: PCPs addressed CRC screening with 1945 patients, most of whom were up-to-date with CRC testing, recommended counseling referral to 362, and of these 180 (49.7%) accepted the referral. A total of 140 (77.8%) of referred patients were contacted and 67 (37.2%) received counseling. After counseling 93.9% were planning on CRC screening compared with 54.6% at the beginning of the call. Of those planning a colonoscopy, 53.2% received one within 7 months. Conclusions: Referring patients for telephone counseling to promote CRC screening may be feasible and acceptable to PCPs and to some patients, and may increase CRC screening. Further evaluation of the intervention may be warranted to compare the rate of screening associated with the intervention to rates related to usual care and to other interventions.