Colon Cancer Screening Follow-Up


Impact Statement: 
Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department improved the return rate of colon cancer screening kits by expanding the work process to include personal phone contact. The process now includes 3 phone attempts, within 3 weeks, to reach the participant. If still unable to reach the participant, the traditional postcard reminder is sent. This improved process increased the colon cancer screening kit rate of return from 40% to 55%. This means that more people received results from the State Lab and have more key health information. In addition, the increase also insured that valuable resources were not wasted as more kits were utilized instead of being discarded.

Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department (ELVPHD) team members who assist with the annual colon cancer screening kit project met to brainstorm ideas to increase kit return rates and implement a Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) cycle. The quality improvement (QI) initiative that was subsequently selected was based on making phone calls to participants who had picked up a colon cancer screening kit but had not returned it within 3 weeks of pickup. Over the past several years, ELVPHD had distributed fecal occult blood test (FOBT) kits and sent postcard reminders to those who had not returned them. With this QI initiative, ELVPHD took a personal contact approach by calling the individual (up to three contact attempts) if the kit had not been returned within 3 weeks. If staff could not reach the person by phone, a postcard reminder would be mailed. In the years before the calling initiative, an approximate 40% kit return rate was achieved with the postcard-only approach. With the addition of the QI calling initiative, the return rate was 55% as of September 2013 (an increase of 15 percentage points). Therefore, the 50% return rate goal was exceeded with the addition of the personal calling approach. The increase in return rates meant that more people turned in kits and received results from the state laboratory. The increase also ensured that valuable resources were not wasted because more kits were used instead of discarded.

Organization that conducted the QI initiative: 

Nemec, M. Public Health Quality Improvement Exchange. Colon Cancer Screening Follow-Up . Wed, 04/16/2014 - 12:06. Available at Accessed February 7, 2023.

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