We investigated the effectiveness of a text-message reminder to improve uptake of the English Bowel Cancer Screening programme in London.
We performed a randomised controlled trial across 141 general practices in London. Eight thousand two hundred sixty-nine screening-eligible adults (aged 60-74 years) were randomised in a 1 : 1 ratio to receive either a text-message reminder (n=4134) or no text-message reminder (n=4135) if they had not returned their faecal occult blood test kit within 8 weeks of initial invitation. The primary outcome was the proportion of adults returning a test kit at the end of an 18-week screening episode (intention-to-treat analysis). A subgroup analysis was conducted for individuals receiving an invitation for the first time.
Uptake was 39.9% in the control group and 40.5% in the intervention group. Uptake did not differ significantly between groups for the whole study population of older adults (adjusted odds ratio (OR) 1.03, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.94-1.12; P=0.56) but did vary between the groups for first-time invitees (uptake was 34.9% in the control and 40.5% in the intervention; adjusted OR 1.29, 95% CI 1.04-1.58; P=0.02).
Although text-message reminders did not significantly increase uptake of the overall population, the improvement among first-time invitees is encouraging.