Methods to increase participation in organised screening programs: A systematic review

Laura Camilloni, Eliana Ferroni, Beatriz Jimenez Cendales, Annamaria Pezzarossi, Giacomo Furnari, Piero Borgia, Gabriella Guasticchi, Paolo Giorgi Rossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The European Community recommends the implementation of population-based screening programmes for cervical, breast, and colorectal cancers. This recommendation is supported by many observational studies showing that organised programmes effectively reduce mortality and control the inappropriate use of screening tests. We conducted a systematic review of studies assessing the efficacy of interventions to increase participation in organised population-based screening programs. Methods. We included all studies on interventions aimed at increasing screening participation published between 1/1999 and 7/2012. For those published before 1999, we considered the Jepson et al. (2000) review (Health Technol Assess 4:1-133, 2000). Results: Including studies from the Jepson review, we found 69 with quantitative information on interventions in organised screening: 19 for cervical, 26 for breast, 20 colorectal cancers, and 4 for cervical and breast cancer together. Effective interventions were: postal (breast RR = 1,37 95% Confidence Interval (95% CI): 1.25-1.51; cervical RR = 1.71 95% CI: 1.60-1.83; colorectal RR = 1.33 95% CI: 1.17-1.51) and telephone reminders (with heterogeneous methods for implementation); GP's signature on invitation letter (breast RR = 1.13 95% CI: 1.11-1.16; cervical RR = 1.20 95% CI: 1.10-1.30; colorectal RR = 1.15 95% CI: 1.07-1.24); scheduled appointment instead of open appointment (breast RR = 1.26 95% CI: 1.02-1.55; cervical RR = 1.49 95% CI: 1.27-1.75; colorectal RR = 1.79 95% CI: 1.65-1.93). Mailing a kit for self-sampling cervical specimens increased participation in non-responders (RR = 2.37 95% CI: 1.44-3.90). Conclusion: Although some interventions did prove to be effective, some specific variables may influence their effectiveness in and applicability to organised population-based screening programs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number464
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Cancer
  • Mass screening
  • Participation
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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