Study in health plan finds about half of members failed to get repeat fecal occult blood tests

-- Jeff Muise

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 (Last Updated: 09/16/2010)

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Adherence to biennial fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) to detect signs of colorectal cancer (CRC) was low among members of a Washington State health plan, which potentially compromised its effectiveness in reducing CRC mortality, according to a study in the September/October issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Joshua J. Fenton, M.D., of the University of California Davis in Sacramento, and colleagues followed 11,110 members of a Washington State health plan, aged 52 to 78 years, who had completed FOBT during a 2000 to 2001 baseline period. The researchers assessed continued adherence with every-other-year FOBT during a two-year observation period (2002 to 2003), then used logistic regression to identify subject characteristics associated with higher incidence of repeat CRC screening.

The researchers found that 46.8 percent of subjects who had the baseline screening had no CRC screening of any type during the two-year observation period, while 53.2 percent did, including 44.4 percent who had FOBT and 8.8 percent who had another CRC test. Relative to no CRC screening, FOBT adherence was found to be better among subjects who received a preventive health examination (adjusted relative rate ratio, 11.16).

"Longitudinal adherence with FOBT screening was low in this insured population, potentially compromising its effectiveness in population CRC mortality reduction. Interventions to promote adherence may be necessary to achieve high effectiveness in population-based FOBT screening programs," the authors write.

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Specialties Hematology & Oncology
Family Practice
Internal Medicine

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