Text Message Preferences for Surveillance Colonoscopy Reminders Among Colorectal Cancer Survivors

Colorectal Cancer

Hohl SD, et al. Health Educ Behav 2020.


Background. Surveillance colonoscopy 1-year after colorectal cancer (CRC) surgery effectively reduces CRC mortality, yet less than half of survivors undergo this procedure. Text message reminders can improve CRC screening and other health behaviors, but use of this strategy to address barriers to CRC surveillance has not been reported. Objectives. The goal of this qualitative study was to assess CRC survivor perspectives on barriers to colonoscopy to inform the design of a theory-based, short message service (SMS) intervention to increase surveillance colonoscopy utilization. Method. CRC survivors in Western Washington participated in one of two focus groups to explore perceived barriers to completing surveillance colonoscopy and preferences for SMS communication. Content analysis using codes representative of the health belief model and prospect theory constructs were applied to qualitative data. Results. Thirteen CRC survivors reported individual-, interpersonal-, and system-level barriers to surveillance colonoscopy completion. Participants were receptive to receiving SMS reminders to mitigate these barriers. They suggested that reminders offer supportive, loss-framed messaging; include educational content; and be personalized to communication preferences. Finally, they recommended that reminders begin no earlier than 9 months following CRC surgery and not include response prompts. Conclusions. Our study demonstrates that CRC survivors perceive SMS reminders as an acceptable, valuable tool for CRC surveillance. Furthermore, there may be value in integrating theoretical frameworks to design, implement, and evaluate SMS interventions to address barriers to CRC surveillance. As physicians play a key role in CRC surveillance, provider- and system-level interventions that could additively improve the impact of SMS interventions are also worth exploring.