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Prev Med. 2003 Dec;37(6 Pt 1):627-34.

Colorectal cancer screening attitudes and behavior: a population-based study.

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Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.



Even though colorectal cancer (CRC) screening tests for persons 50 years of age or over are recommended to reduce colorectal cancer mortality, screening rates remain disturbingly low.


Using random digit dialing, 355 telephone interviews were conducted with black and white men and women, 50-79 years of age, who resided in Genesee County, Michigan. The Health Belief Model provided the framework to assess attitudes and practices regarding CRC screening.


For both endoscopic procedures, significantly higher percentages of whites than blacks were aware of the screening procedure (P < 0.05). Overall, fewer than 30% of respondents were adherent to current CRC screening guidelines. Adherence was lowest for black females: 21% for fecal occult blood test, 20% for flexible sigmoidoscopy, and 12% for colonoscopy. Black males compared to black females were about 2.8 times more likely to have had either flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy (P < 0.05). Physician recommendation was a powerful motivator to screening. Two consistent barriers to screening were the belief that: (a) the test is not needed; and (b) the test is embarrassing.


Interventions directed at physicians and patients are essential to enhance CRC screening rates. CRC survival rates may be improved by physician-guided promotion of screening that focuses on identified barriers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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