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Implementation of a mailed faecal immunochemical test programme for colorectal cancer screening among Veterans.

Deeds SA, Moore CB, Gunnink EJ, Wheat CL, Robinson AE, Bomsztyk MD, Geyer JR, Chen A, Godbout RM, Nelson KM, Dominitz JA, Reddy A. Implementation of a mailed faecal immunochemical test programme for colorectal cancer screening among Veterans. BMJ open quality. 2022 Nov 1; 11(4).

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BACKGROUND: Screening for colorectal cancer (CRC) with faecal immunochemical test (FIT) is effective at reducing CRC mortality. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has been associated with deferred care, especially screening for CRC. AIM: We sought to develop a mailed FIT programme (MFP) to increase CRC screening and make recommendations for adoption across the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and for other large healthcare systems. SETTING: 2 regional VA medical centres in California and Washington state. PARTICIPANTS: 5667 average risk veterans aged 50-75 overdue or due within 90 days for CRC screening. PROGRAMME DESCRIPTION: A multidisciplinary implementation team collaborated to mail an FIT kit to eligible veterans. Both sites mailed a primer postcard, and one site added an automated reminder call. PROGRAMME EVALUATION: We monitored FIT return and positivity rate, as well as impact of the programme on clinical staff. 34% of FIT kits were returned within 90 days and 7.8% were abnormal. DISCUSSION: We successfully implemented a population-based MFP at multiple regional VA sites and recommend that these efforts be spread across VA. Our model of regional leadership, facility champions and using centralised resources can be adaptable to other large healthcare systems. MFPs support catch-up from disrupted care by addressing access to CRC screening, unburden primary care visits and conserve limited procedural resources.

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