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GP letter 'boosts bowel cancer test use'

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Bowel cancer home screening tests are more likely to be used by people if they have received an endorsement letter from their GP and a leaflet explaining how to carry out the test, a study has revealed.

According to researchers from the University of Oxford, whose study was published in the British Journal of cancer, at least 10% more people sent bowel screening tests are likely to use it if it is accompanied by a GP’s letter and an information leaflet.

The researchers questioned 1,200 patients registered with 20 different GP surgeries.

These people were divided into four groups - those receiving a test kit on its own, a kit accompanied by GP letter, a kit with a detailed how-to-do-it leaflet or a kit with both letter and leaflet.

People who received either a leaflet or a letter were 6% more likely to post their kits back for examination, while those who received a letter and leaflet were 12% more likely.

In total, approximately only half of those taking part in the study returned their kits.

Study author and University of Oxford research fellow Paul Hewitson said: “It’s important we find ways to improve the uptake of screening as we know that at the moment only around half of 60 and 70 year olds are using and posting back their bowel screening kit.”


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Readers' comments (1)

  • I find all these letters from GPs telling me what i should and should not do intrusive and do not want them. If I need a GP that is my decision not the other way round.


    why all these costly new screening tests which will increase the number of patients when the NHS cannot cope with those it already has.

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