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Study finds patient navigation increases colorectal cancer screening in ethnically diverse patients
Date:5/23/2011

(Boston) Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine, Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School have found targeting patient navigation to black and non-English speaking patients may be one approach to reducing disparities in colorectal cancer (CRC) screenings. These findings appear in the May 23 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. and is preventable through screening. Nevertheless, about 40 percent of eligible adults in the U.S. and more foreign born U.S. residents are overdue for CRC screening. Patients at greatest risk of not being screened include minorities, patients with Medicaid or no health insurance, those who are foreign-born and patients of low socioeconomic status.

Patient navigators are non-clinical staff members who guide patients through the health care system so that they receive appropriate services. The navigators perform a wide range of advocacy and coordination activities, such as assisting patients in obtaining health insurance or transportation to appointments.

The researchers identified 465 primary care patients from four community health centers and two public hospital-based clinics who were not up-to-date with CRC screening and spoke English, Haitian Creole, Portuguese or Spanish. They randomly allocated patients to receive a patient navigation-based intervention or usual care. Intervention patients received an introductory letter from their primary care provider with educational material followed by telephone calls from a language-concordant navigator. The navigators offered patients the option of being screened by fecal occult blood testing or colonoscopy. The primary outcome was completion of any CRC screening within 12 months. Secondary outcomes included the proportions of patients screened by colonoscopy and who had adenomas or cancer detected.

Over a 12 month period, the researche
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Contact: Jenny Eriksen Leary
jenny.eriksen@bmc.org
617-638-6841
Boston University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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