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Gastrointest Endosc. 2001 Sep;54(3):310-5.

Patient experience and preferences toward colon cancer screening: a comparison of virtual colonoscopy and conventional colonoscopy.

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Division of Gastroenterology, San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, University of California, San Francisco, USA.



Virtual colonoscopy has excellent sensitivity for the detection of cancer and polyps greater than 1 cm in diameter. For virtual colonoscopy to succeed as a screening test for colorectal neoplasia, it must be well tolerated and accepted by patients. Patients' experiences with virtual colonoscopy and conventional colonoscopy were assessed and compared.


Patients referred to the GI clinic for colonoscopy for any indication were recruited to undergo virtual colonoscopy before conventional colonoscopy. Patients were asked to complete a questionnaire twice: after virtual colonoscopy and after completing both tests. Three variables, overall pain, discomfort, and lack of respect, were assessed by using a 7-point Liken scale with higher scores denoting a worse experience. Patients' preferences for virtual colonoscopy versus conventional colonoscopy were determined with a time tradeoff technique. To verify response stability, patients were asked to return an additional questionnaire by mail at 24 hours.


Two hundred ninety-five patients completed the questionnaire immediately after the procedures, and 83 patients completed the questionnaire at 24 hours. At both 0 and 24 hours, patients reported more pain, discomfort, and less respect after virtual colonoscopy than conventional colonoscopy (p < 0.01). The overall agreement (Kappa statistic) between times 0 and 24 hours was fair. Patients reported that they preferred conventional colonoscopy and would wait longer for conventional colonoscopy (mean = 4.9 weeks) than undergo a virtual colonoscopy (p < 0.01).


Patients tolerate both virtual colonoscopy and conventional colonoscopy, although they report more pain, discomfort, and less respect undergoing virtual colonoscopy. Efforts to improve patient experience during virtual colonoscopy need to be investigated.

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