Messages, calls and automatic alerts are responsible for increased adherence to cervical cancer screening. The conclusion is a doctoral dissertation from the Institute of Public Health of the University of Porto, which invited 1,220 women to take the exam, from 25 to 49 years old, in the health centers of Porto Oeste and Marão Douro Norte.
The study's author, Firmino Machado, explains that, traditionally, the invitation is made through a “personalized letter, with the person's name, date and place of the exam, indicating that it can be rescheduled”.
Given that rescheduling depends on “the person's proactivity,” the researcher decided to implement three strategies to persuade women to take the test. The results were then compared to a control group to which only one letter was sent.
In the first strategy, messages, calls and automatic alerts were sent to 605 women, inviting them to be screened. In the end, 236, 39%, took the test. Of the 615 women to whom only the letter was sent, 158, which corresponds to 25.7%, performed the screening. In addition to increasing membership by 13.3%, this strategy means cost savings.
“Inviting a woman to do the screening by letter spends an average of 80 cents. With this strategy we spend less than a cent, ”explains the researcher in an interview with Público.
The other strategy was applied to those who had not yet taken the exam. This time, the remaining 369 women were contacted by a clinical secretary, who would call twice if they didn't answer the phone. For the remaining 457 of the control group, the letter invitation was not reinforced as it is currently done.
This bet led 58 more women to take the exam. With the letter, 31 more women were screened. Combining the values of the two strategies, automated messaging and calling a clinical secretary, 294 women (48.6%) took the test. The chart method was 189 (30.7%), a difference of 17.9 percentage points from the two strategies.
The last strategy was applied to 311 women, who were invited by call to a face-to-face consultation, where the screening process would be explained. After this method, 16 women joined the exam. Again, without sending more letters to the remaining 426 women in the control group, 20 were tracked.