Cancer risk assessment tools in primary care: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials

J.G. Walker, S. Licqurish, P. Chiang, M. Pirotta, Jon Emery

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    31 Citations (Scopus)


    © 2015, Annals of Family Medicine, Inc. All rights reserved.
    We conducted this review to identify published randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of cancer risk assessment tools used in primary care and to determine their impact on clinical utility (clinicians), screening uptake (patients), and psychosocial outcomes (patients).
    We searched EMBASE, PubMed and the Cochrane databases for RCTs of cancer risk assessment tools in primary care up to May 2014. Only studies set in primary care, with patients eligible for screening, and English-language articles were included.
    The review included 11 trials of 7 risk tools. The trials were heterogeneous with respect to type of tool that was used, type(s) of cancer assessed, and outcomes measured. Evidence suggested risk tools improved patient risk perception, knowledge, and screening intentions, but not necessarily screening behavior. Overall, uptake of a tool was greater if initiated by patients, if used by a dedicated clinician, and when combined with decision support. There was no increase in cancer worry. Health promotion messages within the tool had positive effects on behavior change. Trials were limited by low-recruitment uptake, and the heterogeneity of the findings necessitated a narrative review rather than a meta-analysis.
    Risk tools may increase intentions to have cancer screening, but additional interventions at the clinician or health system levels may be needed to increase risk-appropriate cancer screening behavior.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)480-489
    JournalAnnals of Family Medicine
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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