Publication Date



cancer screening, primary care, COVID-19, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, cervical cancer, telehealth


Purpose: Three New York State practice-based research networks provided quality improvement strategies to improve screening rates for breast, cervical, and colorectal (BCC) cancers in safety-net primary care, over 7 years. In the final year (Y7), the United States experienced the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on BCC cancer screening rates was assessed qualitatively.

Methods: A total of 12 primary care practices participated in Y7 of the quality improvement project. BCC cancer screening rates at year beginning and end were assessed. Practice staff were asked about how COVID-19 impacted screening. Average pre/postintervention screening rates and qualitative thematic analysis regarding how COVID-19 impacted cancer screening were ascertained.

Results: In Y7, there was an increase in breast cancer and a decrease in colorectal and cervical cancer screening rates compared to the previous project year. Many practices were able to continue pre-COVID-19 cancer screening processes. Overall, practices reported loss of staff, changes in data entry, and a shift from preventive screening to care of sick patients. Telehealth was vital for practices to continue serving patients but had a less positive impact on patients with financial/technological disadvantages. BCC cancer screenings were impacted at various levels.

Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted primary care practice cancer screening; however, some practices were able to mitigate effects by shifting focus to processes supporting screening outside of in-person office visits.




February 19th, 2021


June 1st, 2021


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