Bowel scope screening increased by more than a fifth (21.5%) when people were sent additional reminders developed by Partners in Creation and University College London (UCL) addressing people's common concerns around screening and bowel cancer.
Partners in Creation qualitative research and co-design techniques identified how best to address people's barriers to cancer screening. Specifically, theory-based materials (designed according to principles put forth by the Behavior Change Wheel) were created and tested against the current NHS information.
Results from the randomized control study, published in the Annals of Behavioural Medicine today and funded by Cancer Research UK and St Mark's Hospital, show a significantly increased uptake of screening when a reminder is sent. And reminders were more effective when sent with the theory-based leaflet developed by Partners, as opposed to the standard information booklet used by the bowel scope screening programme.
"It's incredibly rewarding to see the combination of our behavioural research and co-design methods having such a beneficial impact on people's cancer diagnosis and screening services in general," said John Isitt, Partners in Creation's lead researcher on the project.
"Despite bowel scope screening attendance being low where it has been rolled out so far, this research shows that more could be done to improve uptake," explained Dr Robert Kerrison, lead researcher from UCL. "Providing information targeting the concerns of patients is one way to break down the barriers to bowel scope screening uptake."
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and over half of bowel cancer cases are diagnosed at a late stage in England. Currently only 40% of people respond to the standard NHS bowel scope screening invitation. These levels drop to 32% in the most deprived areas.