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Interventions to reach underscreened populations: a narrative review for planning cancer screening initiatives

  • Review
  • Published:
International Journal of Public Health



This review was conducted to support knowledge translation (KT) and implementation of interventions to increase participation in organized cancer screening programs in the province of Ontario, Canada.


A rigorously designed literature search yielded over 900 references which were then subjected to exclusion criteria. The remainder was organized according to type of intervention, based on the categories applied in two authoritative systematic reviews and an analysis of the level of evidence. Emerging themes in the literature were then identified to provide a bridge between high-level evidence and on-the-ground practice.


We identify three promising types of KT interventions: community-based health education; lay or peer health education; and targeted or tailored interventions. Each is summarized with illustrative examples and a summary of key themes and considerations.


The authors conclude with a summary the types and a decision tool designed to help KT and implementation teams select interventions which could be adapted to their own context.

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The work to develop this literature was made possible through funding from the Cancer Care Ontario Screening Program. The authors gratefully acknowledge the assistance of colleagues at Cancer Care Ontario who provided feedback at various stages of the project. The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers whose suggestions greatly improved this paper.

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Correspondence to Mavis Jones.

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This review is part of the section ‘Knowledge synthesis, translation and exchange’.

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Jones, M., Ross, B., Cloth, A. et al. Interventions to reach underscreened populations: a narrative review for planning cancer screening initiatives. Int J Public Health 60, 437–447 (2015).

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