The rate of adherence to regular colonoscopy screening among members of families at increased risk for colorectal cancer (CRC) is far below recommended levels. Persons who live in rural areas of the United States exhibit lower colorectal screening rates than their urban counterparts. Although the detection of familial predisposition to cancer begins with an accurate family medical history, data indicate that many patients do not receive adequate familial cancer risk assessment from their primary care providers. This suggests that familial risk is largely unrecognized which may lead to inadequate risk stratification, lack of risk notification, appropriate risk counseling, suboptimal cancer screening and preventable deaths. Because of geographic and system-level barriers, special efforts are needed to improve access to personalized risk communication and adherence to CRC screening in rural dwellers at increased risk for CRC. In the proposed study, we will evaluate a novel telephone-based, theory-guided personalized risk communication intervention that combines a familial CRC risk assessment and behavioral counseling with tailored messages. The key hypothesis guiding this study is that a more intensive personalized risk communication intervention will improve CS at a significantly higher rate than a low-intensity targeted print intervention. Our integrative study model specifies important theoretical mechanisms that can contribute to increased use of CS among persons at increased risk. We will enroll 712 rural adult men and women age 40 years and older who are considered at increased risk of familial CRC into this 2-group randomized trial. The primary aim of this study is to compare colonoscopy use among participants in the two groups. Secondary aims are to compare the two groups with regard to cognitive and emotional outcomes and explore the underlying mechanisms through which the interventions have an impact on colonoscopy behavior. Sociodemographic, clinical, behavioral and psychosocial measures will be collected from participants at baseline, 1 month, 6 months and 1 year. The study's findings will have both theoretical, as well as practical, significance. Our findings will help to influence the selection and dissemination of effective outreach approaches to improve CRC screening in populations at increased risk for the disease. These results have broad applicability to understanding responses to personalized risk communication interventions for other diseases as well. Findings will also broaden our understanding of the underlying theoretical mechanisms of how remote cancer risk communications lead to improvements in cancer screening among geographically underserved populations if such intervention effects are observed.
Provision of personalized risk assessment and behavioral counseling services via the telephone is likely to ensure equitable access to cancer communications for rural and other underserved groups. Such interventions have the potential to translate into improved colorectal cancer (CRC) screening rates among rural dwellers at increased risk for the disease by removing geographic and other barriers to accessing potentially life-saving cancer risk communications. Our study is highly responsive to national health communication and health disparity priorities, and will provide data that are needed to influence the development and dissemination of effective cancer communication interventions to high-risk individuals who reside in geographically underserved areas.
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