Increasing Cancer Screening: Provider Reminder and Recall Systems
Reminders inform health care providers it is time for a client’s cancer screening test (called a “reminder”) or that the client is overdue for screening (called a “recall”). The reminders can be provided in different ways, such as in client charts or by e-mail.
Summary of Task Force Recommendations and Findings
- Breast cancer screening by mammography
- Cervical cancer screening by Pap test
- Colorectal cancer screening by fecal occult blood test (FOBT)
The Task Force recommends provider reminder systems based on sufficient evidence of their effectiveness in increasing:
- Colorectal cancer screening by flexible sigmoidoscopy
The Task Force finds insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of using provider reminders to increase:
- Colorectal cancer screening by colonoscopy or double contrast barium enema
Results from the System Reviews
Twenty-five studies qualified for the review and included 2 outcome measures.
- The included studies had thirty-one estimates of the effect of provider reminders on the screening outcomes of interest: twelve for mammography, thirteen for Pap tests, five for FOBTs, and one for flexible sigmoidoscopy
- Mammography, pap test, and FOBT screening completion: median increase of 8.8 percentage points
- Proportion of study participants completing mammography: median increase of 12 percentage points (12 studies or study arms)
- Proportion of study participants completing Pap tests: median increase of 4.7 percentage points (13 studies or study arms)
- Proportion of study participants completing FOBTs and flexible sigmoidoscopy: median increase of 17.6 percentage points (6 studies or study arms)
These results 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.
- Analytic framework [PDF - 452 kB] – see Figure 1 on page 112
- Evidence gaps
- Summary evidence tables* [PDF - 108 kB]
- Included studies
Baron RC, Melillo S, Rimer BK, et al. Intervention to increase recommendation and delivery of screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers by healthcare providers: a systematic review of provider reminders. [PDF - 452 kB] Am J Prev Med 2010;38(1):110-7.
Read other Community Guide publications about Cancer Prevention and Control in our library.
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- Prompting Healthcare Providers Can Increase Cancer Screenings
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*PDF includes all of the information available and will not be updated.
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.
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: provider reminder and recall systems. www.thecommunityguide.org/cancer/screening/provider-oriented/reminders.html. Last updated: MM/DD/YYYY.
Review completed: February 2006
- Page last reviewed: September 30, 2013
- Page last updated: September 30, 2013
- Content source: The Guide to Community Preventive Services