UCLA scientists to partner with community health centers to study comparative effectiveness of various strategies to increase colorectal cancer screening

Three-year project could inform national efforts to improve colorectal cancer screening in underserved populations

UCLA researcher, Dr. Roshan Bastani will lead a three-year, $910,000 research study awarded by the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP) to implement and evaluate a program designed to increase colorectal cancer (CRC) screening among underserved populations. CRC is the second most common cause of cancer mortality in the U.S.  Screening has proven effectiveness in reducing CRC mortality but continues to be underutilized, particularly among low income and ethnic minority groups and significantly so in California’s Latino communities. This disparity is urgent given Latinos are the fastest growing population in the U.S. and the largest ethnic group in California.

For this study, the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health are partnering with the Northeast Valley Health Corporation (NEVHC), a multi-site Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) that provides much needed health care to a uninsured or publically insured, low-income, primarily Latino population in Los Angeles County.

Funding for this project is a result of the California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016, which increased the retail tax on tobacco products by $2. Funding generated through the tax allows TRDRP to support research into the causes, prevention, early detection, and effective treatment for diseases, including cancer, with a particular focus on serving the needs of California’s diverse communities.

Dr. Bastani is a professor in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Director of Disparities and Community Engagement at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Director of the UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity. The UCLA team includes Dr. Beth Glenn, Dr. Alison Herrmann, Dr. Catherine Crespi, and Dr. Fola May. The NEVHC team is led by Dr. Alicia Lwin, Dr. Christine Park, and Ms. Debra Rosen.

The UCLA-NEVHC study team aims to increase CRC screening within this underserved population by implementing and evaluating a multi-level, multi-component, systems approach that targets physicians, staff, and patients, as well as clinic-level policies, procedures and practices. Approaches include training, clinical decision support and feedback for physicians and staff; system-level approaches focused on workflow changes; and patient-level approaches including culturally-tailored instructions, consultations with bilingual clinic staff, and text message reminders.

“We are very excited to partner with NEVHC on this project. If our intervention is effective in increasing CRC screening rates among NEVHC patients the results will have very broad implications for national implementation in other low resource clinical settings and high potential for reducing mortality from this very serious disease.”