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Celebrate 10 Years with Cancer Control P.L.A.N.E.T.

Increasing Cancer Screening: Group Education for Clients

Group education conveys information on indications for, benefits of, and ways to overcome barriers to screening with the goal of informing, encouraging, and motivating participants to seek recommended screening. Group education is usually conducted by health professionals or by trained laypeople who use presentations or other teaching aids in a lecture or interactive format, and often incorporate role modeling or other methods. Group education can be given to a variety of groups, in different settings, and by different types of educators with different backgrounds and styles.

Summary of Task Force Recommendations and Findings

The Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends group education for the purpose of increasing breast cancer screening on the basis of sufficient evidence that these interventions are effective in increasing screening for breast cancer.

The Task Force finds insufficient evidence, however, to determine the effectiveness of group education in increasing screening for cervical cancer and colorectal cancer, based on small numbers of studies with methodologic limitations and inconsistent findings.

Task Force Finding and Rationale Statement

Results from the Systematic Reviews

The Task Force findings are based on evidence from a previously completed review (search period 1966-2004) and an updated review (search period 2004-2008). Updates of reviews are conducted to incorporate more recent evidence.

Read a summary of findings from the previous review or visit the Cancer Prevention and Control section of our publications page to access the complete articles.

Breast Cancer

Thirteen studies qualified for the systematic review.

  • Mammography screening: median increase of 11.5 percentage points (interquartile interval [IQI]: 5.5 to 24 percentage points; 12 studies with 13 study arms)
  • One study reported mixed results for mammography screening, depending on whether the results were reported at the group or individual level.

Group education interventions to increase breast cancer screening should be applicable across a range of settings and populations, provided they are adapted for a specific population and delivery context.

Cervical Cancer

Five studies qualified for the systematic review.

  • Pap tests: median increase of 10.6 percentage points (range 0 to 59.1; 4 studies)
  • One study reported mixed results for cervical cancer screening, depending on whether the results were reported at the group or individual level.
  • While these results were in the favorable direction, the studies had some methodological limitations.

Colorectal Cancer

Two studies qualified for the systematic review.

  • Screening by FOBT: median increase of 4.4 percentage points (range -13 to 37; 2 studies with 4 study arms)
  • The evidence was insufficient to support a recommendation, however, because of the small number of studies and inconsistent findings among the study arms.

These findings were based on a systematic review of all available studies, conducted on behalf of the Task Force by a team of specialists in systematic review methods, and in research, practice and policy related to cancer prevention and control.

Economic Review

The updated search for evidence included studies about breast, cervical, or colorectal cancer screening. Only one study about breast cancer qualified for the review. Monetary values are presented in 2009 U.S dollars.

  • The cost to implement the intervention for one year was estimated at $12.87 per woman educated, assuming 250 presentations were conducted with approximately 2,500 participants.
  • Volunteers provided breast screening education. The majority of the program cost (80%) was for the salary of the volunteer coordinator.

image of planet Find Research-Tested Intervention Programs (RTIPs) about the use of group education to increase breast External Web Site Icon, and cervical External Web Site Icon cancer screening (What is an RTIP?).

Supporting Materials


Sabatino SA, Lawrence B, Elder R, Mercer SL, Wilson KM, DeVinney B, Melillo S, Carvalho M, Taplin S, Bastani R, Rimer BK, Vernon SW, Melvin CL, Taylor V, Fernandez M, Glanz K, Community Preventive Services Task Force. Effectiveness of interventions to increase screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers: nine updated systematic reviews for The Guide to Community Preventive Services. Adobe PDF File [PDF - 235 kB] Am J Prev Med 2012;43(1):765-86.

Community Preventive Services Task Force. Updated recommendations for client- and provider-oriented interventions to increase breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening. Adobe PDF File [PDF - 90 kB]. Am J Prev Med 2012;43(1):760-4.

Read other Community Guide publications about Cancer Prevention and Control in our library.


The findings and conclusions on this page are those of the Community Preventive Services Task Force and do not necessarily represent those of CDC. Task Force evidence-based recommendations are not mandates for compliance or spending. Instead, they provide information and options for decision makers and stakeholders to consider when determining which programs, services, and policies best meet the needs, preferences, available resources, and constraints of their constituents.

Sample Citation

The content of publications of the Guide to Community Preventive Services is in the public domain. Citation as to source, however, is appreciated. Sample citation: Guide to Community Preventive Services. Increasing cancer screening: group education for clients. Last updated: MM/DD/YYYY.

Review completed: October 2009