(HealthDay News) — A telephone outreach intervention delivered by Medicaid managed care organization (MMCO) staff can increase rates of colorectal cancer (CRC) screening among women overdue for screening, according to a study published in the July/August issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Allen J. Dietrich, M.D., from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Lebanon, N.H., and colleagues conducted an 18-month clinical trial involving 2,240 women covered by a MMCO, aged 50 to 63 years, and who were overdue for CRC screening. Participants were randomized to receive telephone outreach from MMCO staff or usual care. Claims data were used to assess the number of women who underwent screening.

The researchers found that the staff reached 60% of women in the intervention group by telephone. Significantly more women in the intervention group received CRC screening compared with the usual care group (36.7% versus 30.6%; odds ratio [OR], 1.32). Increases in screening varied from 1.1% to 13.7% across the three participating MMCOs, and the overall increase was mainly attributed to one MMCO. Of the women reached by phone, 41.8% received CRC screening, compared with 26.8% of women in the usual care group (OR, 1.84) in an as-treated comparison. For one woman to be screened, seven women needed to be reached by telephone.

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“This study shows that MMCOs, key players in the delivery of health care to publicly insured and underserved populations, can successfully implement interventions to increase CRC screening, reducing health care disparities among a difficult to reach population,” the authors write.