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Colonoscopy fears overcome when patients support patients
Date:1/7/2008

PHILADELPHIA Patients who have had a colonoscopy can play a life-saving role by encouraging other patients to follow through with their own colorectal cancer screenings, according to new research from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. These peer coaches can provide important information to combat myths and fears that serve as barriers to colonoscopy issues patients say their doctors often fail to address. In a randomized trial, clinicians in the Division of General Internal Medicine studied patients who were at increased risk of missing their scheduled colon study appointment. They found that those who received telephone mentoring from a trained peer coach were two times more likely to keep their first colonoscopy appointment than those who received an educational brochure about the procedure in the mail or received no peer or literature support.

This study addresses an important gap in colorectal cancer prevention in the United States patients who dont follow through with their appointments, says lead author Barbara J. Turner, MD, MSEd, Professor of Medicine and Director of Penns General Medicine Physician Scientist Fellowship. This is one of the first studies to show that patients can help other patients overcome barriers to getting tests that can prevent this deadly disease. The findings will be published this month in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related death in the United States, but less than 60 percent of Americans over the age of 50 have had a screening colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy in the past ten years. Even when patients schedule appointments for these tests, one-third of patients cancel, in part because they have unanswered questions or unfounded fears about the procedure or the colon-cleansing preparation.

Turner and her colleague Kevin Fosnocht, MD, Penn Presbyterian Chief Quality and Patient Safety Officer, ran a training program for the five
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Contact: Holly Auer
holly.auer@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5659
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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