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Home > About Us > Newsroom > Improving colorectal cancer screening adherence through shared decision making: Allina Health WISDM project in Buffalo and Hastings draws to a close

Improving colorectal cancer screening adherence through shared decision making: Allina Health WISDM project in Buffalo and Hastings draws to a close

MINNEAPOLIS 03/10/2015

Colorectal Cancer Screening with Improved Shared Decision Making (WISDM) was a three-year study to see if engaging patients and community in a dialogue using educational materials to address their questions, concerns, and preferences about screening options would improve colorectal cancer screening adherence.

Funded by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, the study, known as the "Don’t Fear the Rear" project, was conducted in partnership with Allina Health, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the Minnesota communities of Buffalo and Hastings.

Men and women aged 50 to 75 years and at average risk for colorectal cancer were eligible to participate. The study focused on offering information about two colorectal cancer screening methods: fecal occult blood test and colonoscopy. In addition to eligible patients at Allina Health clinics, WISDM researchers worked to engage the public with informational campaigns and at community-wide events, such as health fairs, events, and presentations. The WISDM website, won two awards and is still available for general information about colorectal cancer screening and updates about WISDM study findings.

Throughout the course of the study, many patients who were not up to date with their screening were reached by WISDM through their Allina Health clinic. Of more than 3,500 people who were eligible for WISDM, more than 100 had shared decision making sessions with a nurse, and more than 2,500 colorectal cancer screening tests were ordered.

One patient said, "The WISDM project prompted me to get a screening and a pre-cancerous polyp was removed. So I’m very grateful to the people who put this project together.

"Preliminary results from a community-wide questionnaire suggest that the vast majority of people want to make healthcare decisions together with their provider, rather than alone or leaving all decisions to their doctor.

"We know that offering choices to our patients can be a powerful strategy to engage in patient centered care. Allina is committed to this strategy and to empowering patients to make informed healthcare decisions," stated Timothy Sielaff, MD, chief medical officer at Allina Health.

Over the coming months, the WISDM research team will continue to analyze the study data and share the findings. For more information about the WISDM project, visit or contact Pamela Mink, managing scientist for Allina Health, at

About Allina Health

Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 12 hospitals, 15 retail pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services, home care, home oxygen and medical equipment and emergency medical transportation services

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