Open Access Study protocol

Improving adherence to surveillance and screening recommendations for people with colorectal cancer and their first degree relatives: a randomized controlled trial

Mariko Carey1*, Rob Sanson-Fisher1, Finlay Macrae2, David Hill3, Catherine D'Este1, Christine Paul1 and Christopher Doran1

Author Affiliations

1 The Priority Research Centre for Health Behaviour, School of Medicine and Public, Health Faculty of Health, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales 2308, Australia

2 Dept of Colorectal Medicine & Genetics, Level 3 Centre, City Campus, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Grattan Street, Parkville, Victoria 3050, Australia

3 The Cancer Council Victoria, 1 Rathdowne Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia

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BMC Cancer 2012, 12:62  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-62

Published: 8 February 2012



Colorectal cancer (CRC) is among the leading causes of cancer-related morbidity and mortality worldwide. Despite clinical practice guidelines to guide surveillance care for those who have completed treatment for this disease as well as screening for first degree relatives of people with CRC, the level of uptake of these recommendations remains uncertain. If outcomes for both patients and their families are to be improved, it is important to establish systematic and cost-effective interventions to improve adherence to guideline recommendations for CRC surveillance and screening.


A randomized controlled trial will be used to test the effectiveness of a print-based intervention to improve adherence to colonoscopy surveillance among people with CRC and adherence to CRC screening recommendations among their first degree relatives (FDRs). People diagnosed with CRC in the past 10 months will be recruited through a population-based cancer registry. Consenting participants will be asked if their first degree relatives might also be willing to participate in the trial. Information on family history of CRC will be obtained from patients at baseline. Patients and their families will be randomized to either minimal ethical care or the print-based intervention. The print-based intervention for FDRs will be tailored to the participant's level of risk of CRC as determined by the self-reported family history assessment. Follow up data on surveillance and screening participation will be collected from patients and their FDRs respectively at 12, 24 and 36 months' post recruitment. The primary analyses will relate to comparing levels of guideline adherence in usual care group versus print-based group in the patient sample and the FDR sample respectively.


Results of this study will provide contribute to the evidence base about effective strategies to a) improve adherence to surveillance recommendation for people with CRC; and b) improve adherence to screening recommendation for FDRs of people with CRC. The use of a population-based cancer registry to access the target population may have significant advantages in increasing the reach of the intervention.

Trial registration

This trial is registered with the Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry Registration Number (ACTRN): ACTRN12609000628246.

Cancer; Colorectal cancer; Early detection; Screening; Surveillance; Guideline adherence