Publication Date



IMPORTANCE: The current quality performance measure for colorectal cancer (CRC) screening is limited to initial screening. Despite low rates, there is no measure for appropriate follow-up with colonoscopy after receipt of an abnormal result of a stool-based screening test (SBT) for CRC. A quality performance measure is needed.

OBJECTIVE: To develop and test a quality performance measure for follow-up colonoscopy within 6 months of an abnormal result of an SBT for CRC.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This retrospective quality improvement study examined data from January 1, 2016, to December 31, 2020, with 2018 plus 6 months of follow-up as the primary measurement period to verify performance rates, specify a potential measure, and test for validity, reliability, and feasibility. The Optum Labs Data Warehouse (OLDW), a deidentified database of health care claims and clinical data, was accessed. The OLDW contains longitudinal health information on enrollees and patients, representing a diverse mixture of ages and geographic regions across the US. For the database study, adults from 38 health care organizations (HCOs) aged 50 to 75 years who completed an initial CRC SBT with an abnormal result were observed to determine follow-up colonoscopy rates within 6 months. Rates were stratified by race, ethnicity, sex, insurance, and test modality. Three HCOs participated in the feasibility field testing. Data were analyzed from June 1, 2022, to May 31, 2023.

MAIN OUTCOME AND MEASURES: The primary outcome consisted of follow-up colonoscopy rates following an abnormal SBT result for CRC. Reliability statistics were also calculated across HCOs, race, ethnicity, and measurement year.

RESULTS: Among 20 581 adults (48.6% men and 51.4% women; 307 [1.5%] Asian, 492 [7.2%] Black, 644 [3.1%] Hispanic, and 17 705 [86.0%] White; mean [SD] age, 63.6 [7.1] years) in 38 health systems, 47.9% had a follow-up colonoscopy following an abnormal SBT result for CRC within 6 months. There was significant variation between HCOs. Notably, significantly fewer Black patients (37.1% [95% CI, 34.6%-39.5%]) and patients with Medicare (49.2% [95% CI, 47.7%-50.6%]) or Medicaid (39.2% [95% CI, 36.3%-42.1%]) insurance received a follow-up colonoscopy. A quality performance measure that tracks rates of follow-up within 6 months of an abnormal SBT result was observed to be feasible, valid, and reliable, with a median reliability statistic between HCOs of 94.5% (range, 74.3%-99.7%).

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: The findings of this observational study of 20 581 adults suggest that a measure of follow-up colonoscopy within defined periods after an abnormal result of an SBT test for CRC is warranted based on low current performance rates and would be feasible to collect by health systems and produce valid, reliable results.


United States, Adult, Male, Humans, Aged, Female, Middle Aged, Early Detection of Cancer, Follow-Up Studies, Medicare, Reproducibility of Results, Retrospective Studies, Neoplasms



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.