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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004 Mar;13(3):366-72.

Demographic and psychosocial factors associated with perceived risk for colorectal cancer.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, United Kingdom.



The objective of this study was to investigate demographic and psychosocial predictors of perceptions of risk for colorectal cancer (CRC) in a population-based sample.


The study was a cross-sectional survey of 18,447 men and women aged 55-64 years. A mailed questionnaire assessed perceived comparative risk for CRC along with demographic characteristics (age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, and socioeconomic status), health-related factors (family history, subjective health and bowel symptoms, and health behaviors), and emotional state (anxiety).


Being male and older were associated with lower perceived risk. Having a family history of CRC, poorer subjective health, more symptoms, and higher levels of anxiety were all associated with increased perceived risk of CRC. Smokers and nonexercisers perceived their risk as higher.


Misperceptions surrounding the effects of age and gender on CRC risk, as well as the genetic link and pathogenesis of CRC, need to be addressed in risk communications.

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