Objectives To assess whether pre-notification is effective in increasing uptake of colorectal cancer screening for all demographic groups.
Setting Scottish national colorectal cancer screening programme.
Methods Males and females aged 50-74 years received a faecal occult blood test by post to complete at home. They were randomized to receive in addition: the pre-notification letter, the pre-notification letter + information booklet, or the usual invitation. Overall, 59,953 subjects were included in the trial between 13/04/09 and 29/05/09 and followed to 27/11/09. Pre-notification letters were posted two weeks ahead of the screening test kit. Uptake was defined as the return of a screening test and chi-squared tests compared uptake between the trial arms. Logistic regression assessed the impact of the letter and letter + booklet on uptake independently of gender, age, deprivation and screening round.
Results Uptake was higher with both the letter (59.0%) and the letter + booklet (58.5%) compared with the usual invitation (53.9%, p < 0.0001). This increased uptake was seen for males, females, all age groups and all deprivation categories including least deprived females (letter 69.9%, usual invitation 66.6%) and most deprived males (42.6% vs. 36.1%), the groups with the highest and lowest levels of uptake respectively in the pilot screening rounds conducted prior to the roll out of the programme. Uptake with the pre-notification letter compared with the usual invitation was higher both unadjusted and adjusted for demographic factors (odds ratio 1.24, 95% Cl 1.193-1.294).
Conclusions Pre-notification is an effective method of increasing uptake in colorectal cancer screening for both genders and all age and deprivation groups.