Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Testing protocol


Delivery of kits and collection of stool samples

The test kit may be delivered by mail, at GPs’ offices or outpatient clinics, by pharmacists, or in other community facilities, and in some cases with the support of volunteers. There is no evidence that any of these strategies may have an impact on the proportion of inadequate samples, provided that clear and simple instruction sheets are included with the kit

The choice of the provider should aim to maximise accessibility, taking into account local conditions, settings and cultural factors. 

Mailing of the FOBT kit with instructions, together with the invitation letter and the information leaflet, is effective in increasing participation rates (Church et al. 2004; Segnan et al. 2005). These results are consistent with previous reports indicating that the GP’s letter and mailing of FOBT kits represent the most important factors for improving compliance (King et al. 1992). Mailing of the FOBT kit might not always represent a cost-effective strategy, if the baseline participation rate and the expected increase in participation are low. Compared to mailing a second FOBT kit to all non-responders, mailing a recall letter with a test order coupon resulted in a substantial decrease in the programme costs, but also in a significant decrease in participation (Tifratene et al. 2007). The authors of the trial suggested, however, that the spared costs might be allocated more efficiently to communication interventions that might have a higher impact on compliance. 

Several test providers close to the target population should be available when the subject is required to reach health or community facilities to get the kit. A recent study (Federici et al. 2006) showed that the time required to reach the test provider was the strongest determinant of compliance: OR (<15 minutes versus 15–30 or >30 minutes):0.8 (0.5–1.3) and 0.3 (0.2–0.7) respectively.

Volunteers or non-health professionals may also be involved in the distribution and collection of kits. Delivery of kits may represent in this case an additional opportunity for counselling, for conveying information about the programme and for providing instructions for test utilisation. Subjects contacted at home by a trained non-health professional who delivered the kit and collected the sample from the participant’s home showed a substantially higher completion rate of iFOBT, as compared to the group who received the kit by mail with an invitation from their primary care physician, (Courtier et al. 2002). 

Community volunteers, who have received some general training by the programme staff, have been involved in the kit distribution in the context of ongoing organised programmes and their involvement has been consistently associated with high participation rates (Zorzi et al. 2007). As no randomised comparison is available, it is difficult to dissociate their specific effect from other characteristics of the communities or target populations involved. Sustainability over time represents an important issue to be taken into account when planning to use volunteer support. 

The modalities adopted for stool collection, storage and shipping of the sample to the laboratory are mainly dependent on the characteristics of the test adopted, i.e. its stability at environment temperature. Based on these considerations mailing of the samples may be an option that can be implemented more easily for guaiac than for immunochemical tests, which need to be processed faster. Accessibility of the collection facilities remains an important goal, but the logistics of the sample han-dling may promote reducing the number of collection facilities in order to ensure an appropriate storage or timely shipping to the laboratories. 

Summary of evidence 
 There is no evidence that the proportion of inadequate samples may be affected by the provider used to deliver the kit, if clear and simple instruction sheets are provided with the kit (II - V).
 The time required to reach the test provider represents a strong determinant of compliance (II). Sending the FOBT kit together with the invitation letter may be more effective than sending a letter alone, but this strategy may not be cost-effective (II). 

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