PURPOSE: Universal tumor screening (UTS) for all colorectal cancer patients can improve the identification of Lynch syndrome, the most common cause of hereditary colorectal cancer. This multiple-case study explored how variability in UTS procedures influenced patient follow-through (PF) with germ-line testing after a screen-positive result.
METHODS: Data were obtained through Web-based surveys and telephone interviews with institutional informants. Institutions were categorized as Low-PF (≤10% underwent germ-line testing), Medium-PF (11-40%), or High-PF (>40%). To identify implementation procedures (i.e., conditions) unique to High-PF institutions, qualitative comparative analysis was performed.
RESULTS: Twenty-one informants from 15 institutions completed surveys and/or interviews. Conditions present among all five High-PF institutions included the following: (i) disclosure of screen-positive results to patients by genetic counselors; and (ii) genetic counselors either facilitate physician referrals to genetics professionals or eliminate the need for referrals. Although both of these High-PF conditions were present among two Medium-PF institutions, automatic reflex testing was lacking and difficulty contacting screen-positive patients was a barrier. The three remaining Medium-PF and five Low-PF institutions lacked the conditions found in High-PF institutions.
CONCLUSION: METHODS for streamlining UTS procedures, incorporating a high level of involvement of genetic counselors in tracking and communication of results and in reducing barriers to patient contact, are reviewed within a broader discussion on maximizing the effectiveness and public health impact of UTS.
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