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Am J Prev Med. 2002 Jul;23(1):28-35.

Healthcare system factors and colorectal cancer screening.

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Medical School, University of Massachusetts, Worcester 01655, USA.



Developing effective programs to promote colorectal cancer (CRC) screening requires understanding of the effect of healthcare system factors on access to screening and adherence to guidelines.


This study assessed the role of insurance status, type of plan, the frequency of preventive health visits, and provider recommendation on utilization of CRC screening tests using a cross-sectional, random-digit-dial survey of 1002 Massachusetts residents aged > or =50.


A broad definition of CRC screening status included colonoscopy or barium enema (screening or diagnostic) within 10 years, flexible sigmoidoscopy (FSIG) within 5 years, and fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) in the past year as options; 51.7% of subjects aged 50 to 64 and 61.5% of older subjects were current. The uninsured had the lowest current testing rate. Among insured participants, type of insurance had little impact on CRC testing; older subjects enrolled in HMOs had marginally higher rates, although not statistically significant. Increased frequency of preventive health visits and ever receiving a physician's recommendation for FSIG or ever receiving FOBT cards were associated with higher rates of CRC screening among both age groups.


Even when broad criteria are used to define current CRC screening status, a substantial proportion of the age-eligible population remains underscreened. Obtaining regular preventive care and receiving a physician's recommendation for screening appear to be potent facilitators of screening that should be considered in designing promotional efforts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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