Development of a colorectal cancer screening intervention for Alaska Native people during a pandemic year

Christie A. Flanagan, Lila J. Finney Rutten, John B. Kisiel, Jennifer K. Lent, Joseph F. Bachtold, Andrew W. Swartz, Diana G. Redwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Alaska Native (AN) people experience twice the rate of colorectal cancer (CRC) as US Whites. There is a need for increased screening and early detection. We describe the development and implementation of a randomized controlled trial of the multi-target stool DNA test (mt-sDNA; Cologuard® Exact Sciences, Madison WI) to increase CRC screening among AN people. Methods: A total of 32 rural/remote AN communities were randomized to a varied intensity intervention (patient navigation vs mailed health education) compared to 14 communities receiving usual opportunistic care. Outcome measures include screening completion and method used (mt-sDNA vs colonoscopy). Health care provider interviews and AN patient focus groups will be used to assess patient-, provider-, and system-level CRC screening promoters and barriers. Results: The study began in April 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a number of challenges and study adaptations. These included difficulty finding laboratory space, lack of timely mail service due to flight reductions across the state, and travel restrictions that led to postponement of in-person focus groups. Videoconferencing platforms for Tribal engagement replaced face-to-face interactions. After an extensive search, a laboratory with space available was identified and the preprocessing laboratory established. Study staff will work closely with patients to monitor mail service to get mt-sDNA kits sent on time. We are also exploring the use of videoconferencing platforms as alternatives to in-person focus groups. Conclusions: Despite the challenges encountered during the COVID-19 pandemic, we successfully initiated the intervention and established the first mt-sDNA preprocessing laboratory in Alaska.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101016
JournalContemporary Clinical Trials Communications
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Alaska Native
  • Colorectal neoplasms/prevention and control
  • Community-based participatory research
  • Healthcare disparities
  • Multi-target stool DNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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