Participants' Views of Retention Materials Used in the PLCO Cancer Screening Trial

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Clin Med Res


OBJECTIVE: To obtain information from participants in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial regarding their perception of the retention materials employed by the screening centers. Also, to determine the viability of using email or the internet as a data collection tool with an older population.

DESIGN: Three of ten PLCO screening centers queried participants towards the end of the study (2010) as to their opinions of the various retention materials and whether they would have been willing to use electronic communication for study activities, had the option been available.

SETTING: The questionnaires were administered by mail, and responses were returned to the originating screening center.

PARTICIPANTS: The participants in this study consisted of all the active participants at three PLCO screening centers: the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, the University of Utah, and Henry Ford Health System.

METHODS: A short, self-administered questionnaire was mailed to all active participants at three PLCO centers (n=41,482). This was a one-time mailing with no follow-up, as the responses were designed to be anonymous in order to obtain the most honest responses.

RESULTS: The response rate was 62%. Of respondents, 97% reported their PLCO experience was good or excellent. Nearly 50% of respondents indicated that receipt of an annual newsletter made them more likely to participate; newsletter features they reported as most important were those that conveyed information on cancer, study findings, and how their data were being used. Results did not support study coordinators' suppositions that receipt of a token gift or birthday card by participants was important for retention. Fewer than 30% of respondents indicated that they would have been unwilling to use a secure website to complete study forms.

CONCLUSION: These data indicate the importance of querying participants rather than relying on impressions of study staff, and also indicate that the internet will be a viable means of data collection in future prevention studies that include older Americans.

Medical Subject Headings

Adult; Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Female; Humans; Male; Mass Screening; Middle Aged; Neoplasms; Patient Participation; Surveys and Questionnaires

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