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January 16, 2007

Phone outreach raises minority cancer screens

This study, conducted by researchers at Columbia's Teacher College, examines the effect of using phone contact for education about colorectal cancer (CRC) screening compared with mailed material. The phoned cohort received an average of 5 conversations totaling 23.5 minutes over 6 months. This was directed to a mostly minority population. Of the 456 subjects, 288 were African American, 74 white, and 90 whose race was not specified0.

According to the press release, "Those who received telephone education were more than four times as likely to follow through with CRC screening as those who received printed material."

Other studies have shown the effectiveness of using telephone outreach to motivate people to participate in cancer screening, but this study shows its effectiveness in a predominantly minority population. These statistics point to its importance:

From 1992--2001, CRC incidence for black men was 13.2 percent higher than for white men and 21.7 percent greater for black women than for white women. Annual mortality was 34 percent greater for black men than for white men and 38 percent greater for black women than for white women.

I'd be curious to find out how this relates to the use of cell phones, or how other digital media could be produced and delivered in a personalized fashion. Would people object to giving up their cell plan minutes to here such educational messages? Would SMS be acceptable?

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