Text messaging and lottery incentive to improve colorectal cancer screening outreach at a community health center: A randomized controlled trial

Colorectal Cancer

Mehta SJ, et al. Prev Med Rep 2020.


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. Trial Registration: clinicaltrials.gov (NCT03072095).