Can colorectal cancer mass-screening organization be evidence-based? Lessons from failures: the experimental and pilot phases of the Lazio program

DeFranco, Emily A.; Lian, Min; Muglia, Louis A.; Schootman, Mario
January 2008
BMC Public Health;2008, Vol. 8 Issue 1, p318
Academic Journal
Background: Screening programmes should be organized to translate theoretical efficacy into effectiveness. An evidence-based organizational model of colorectal cancer screening (CRCS) should assure feasibility and high compliance. Methods: A multidisciplinary Working Group (WG), reviewed literature and guidelines to define evidence-based recommendations. The WG identified the need for further local studies: physicians' CRCS attitudes, the effect of test type and provider on compliance, and individual reasons for non-compliance. A survey of digestive endoscopy services was conducted. A feasibility study on a target population of 300.000 has begun. Results: Based on the results of population trials and on literature review the screening strategy adopted was Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) every two years for 50-74 year olds and, for positives, colonoscopy. The immunochemical test was chosen because it has 20% higher compliance than the Guaiac. GPs were chosen as the preferred provider also for higher compliance. Since we observed that distance is the major determinant of non-compliance, we choose GPs because they are the closest providers, both geographically and emotionally, to the public. The feasibility study showed several barriers: GP participation was low, there were administrative problems to involve GPs; opportunistic testing by the GPs; difficulties in access to Gastroenterology centres; difficulties in gathering colonoscopy results; little time given to screening activity by the gastroenterology centre. Conclusion: The feasibility study highlighted several limits of the model. Most of the barriers that emerged were consequences of organisational choices not supported by evidence. The principal limit was a lack of accountability by the participating centres.


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