The impact of mailing fecal occult blood test kits on return rate in a community cancer screening center

S M Mahon
Oncology Nursing Forum 1995, 22 (8): 1259-63

PURPOSE/OBJECTIVES: To describe how mailing fecal occult blood test (FOBT) kits prior to office appointments rather than distributing the kits at office visits affects the return rate of completed tests and to describe the demographic characteristics of those who returned the tests and those who did not.

DESIGN: Retrospective chart review.

SETTING: An urban, community hospital cancer screening program.

SAMPLE: 631 people; 382 returned the FOBTs; 128 did not return the tests; 121 refused all colorectal screening including fecal occult blood testing.

METHODS: Charts were reviewed and abstracted using a form; data were entered and analyzed using descriptive statistics.

MAIN RESEARCH VARIABLES: Completion and return of the FOBT and FOBT results.

FINDINGS: The return rate when the FOBT was mailed prior to appointments was 85% compared to 32% for patients who received test kits in the office. Of those who completed the test, 80% also underwent digital rectal examinations and 26% underwent flexible sigmoidoscopies. Nine people demonstrated positive FOBT results, but no colorectal cancers were detected.

CONCLUSIONS: In this retrospective chart review, mailing FOBT kits prior to office appointments appeared to be related to increased return rates.

IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE: Findings are preliminary in nature, but nurses must consider various methods of distributing FOBTs in order to increase return rates.

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