Text Messaging And Lottery Incentive To Improve Colorectal Cancer Screening Outreach At A Community Health Center: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Abstract [from journal]

Efforts to boost colorectal cancer (CRC) screening rates in underserved populations have been limited by effectiveness and scalability. We evaluate the impact of adding a lottery-based financial incentive to a text messaging program that asks patients to opt-in to receive mailed fecal immunochemical testing (FIT). This is a two-arm pragmatic randomized controlled trial at a community health center in Southwest Philadelphia from April to July 2017. We included CRC screening-eligible patients between ages 50-74 years who had a mobile phone, active health insurance, and at least one visit to the clinic in the past 12 months. Patients received a text message about CRC screening with the opportunity to opt-in to receive mailed FIT. They were randomized 1:1 to the following: (1) text messaging outreach alone (text), or (2) text messaging with lottery for a 1-in-5 chance of winning $100 after FIT completion (text + lottery). The primary outcome was the percentage of patients completing the mailed FIT within 3 months of initial outreach. 281 patients were included in the intent-to-treat analysis. The FIT completion rate was 12.1% (95% CI, 6.7%-17.5%) in the text message arm and 12.1% (95% CI, 6.7%-17.5%) in the lottery arm, with no statistical difference between arms. The majority of post-intervention interview respondents found text messaging to be acceptable and convenient. Opt-in text messaging is a feasible option to promote the uptake of mailed FIT screening, but the addition of a lottery-based incentive did not improve completion rates.