The cost-effectiveness of training US primary care physicians to conduct colorectal cancer screening in family medicine residency programs

Nicholas Edwardson, Jane N. Bolin, David A. McClellan, Philip P. Nash, Janet W. Helduser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Demand for a wide array of colorectal cancer screening strategies continues to outpace supply. One strategy to reduce this deficit is to dramatically increase the number of primary care physicians who are trained and supportive of performing office-based colonoscopies or flexible sigmoidoscopies. This study evaluates the clinical and economic implications of training primary care physicians via family medicine residency programs to offer colorectal cancer screening services as an in-office procedure. Methods: Using previously established clinical and economic assumptions from existing literature and budget data from a local grant (2013), incremental cost-effectiveness ratios are calculated that incorporate the costs of a proposed national training program and subsequent improvements in patient compliance. Sensitivity analyses are also conducted. Results: Baseline assumptions suggest that the intervention would produce 2394 newly trained residents who could perform 71,820 additional colonoscopies or 119,700 additional flexible sigmoidoscopies after ten years. Despite high costs associated with the national training program, incremental cost-effectiveness ratios remain well below standard willingness-to-pay thresholds under base case assumptions. Interestingly, the status quo hierarchy of preferred screening strategies is disrupted by the proposed intervention. Conclusions: A national overhaul of family medicine residency programs offering training for colorectal cancer screening yields satisfactory incremental cost-effectiveness ratios. However, the model places high expectations on primary care physicians to improve current compliance levels in the US.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-105
Number of pages8
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Colonoscopy
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Family medicine residency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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