Journal of Community Health

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 281–288 | Cite as

Organizational Change: A Way to Increase Colon, Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening in Primary Care Practices

  • Ana Maria Arroyave
  • Eribeth K. Penaranda
  • Carmen L. Lewis
Original Paper


Screening tests for colon, cervical and breast cancer remain underutilized despite their proven effectiveness in reducing morbidity and mortality. Stone et al. concluded that cancer screening is most likely to improve when a health organization supports performance through organizational changes (OC) in staffing and clinical procedures. OC interventions include the use of separate clinics devoted to prevention, use of a planned care visit, designation of non-physician staff for specific prevention activities and continuous quality improvement interventions. Objectives To identify specific elements of OC interventions that increases the selected cancer screening rates. To determine to which extent practices bought into the interventions. Methods Eleven randomized controlled trials from January 1990 to June 2010 that instituted OC to increase cancer screening completion were included. Qualitative data was analyzed by using a framework to facilitate abstraction of information. For quantitative data, an outcome of measure was determined by the change in the proportion of eligible individuals receiving cancer screening services between intervention and control practices. The health prevention clinic intervention demonstrated a large increase (47%) in the proportion of completed fecal occult blood test; having a non-physician staff demonstrated an increase in mammography (18.4%); and clinical breast examination (13.7%); the planned care visit for prevention intervention increased mammography (8.8%); continuous quality improvement interventions showed mixed results, from an increase in performance of mammography 19%, clinical breast examination (13%); Pap smear (15%) and fecal occult blood test (13%), to none or negative change in the proportion of cancer screening rates. Conclusions To increase cancer screening completion goals, OC interventions should be implemented tailored to the primary care practice style. Interventions that circumvent the physicians were more effective. We could not conclude whether or not continuous quality techniques were effective. Further research is needed to evaluate cost-effectiveness of these interventions.


Cancer screening Primary care Organizational change Secondary prevention Practice improvement 



Dr. Arroyave was supported by an American Cancer Society Scholarship. Dr. Lewis was supported by a K07 Mentored Career Development Award (5K07CA104128) from the National Cancer Institute.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ana Maria Arroyave
    • 1
    • 2
  • Eribeth K. Penaranda
    • 3
  • Carmen L. Lewis
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Medical Education, Department of Family and Community MedicinePaul L. Foster School of Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Science CenterEl PasoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Social Medicine, Preventive Medicine 2007–2008University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  3. 3.Department of Family and Community MedicinePaul L. Foster School of Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Science CenterEl PasoUSA
  4. 4.Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology, Cecil G Sheps Center for Health Services ResearchUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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