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Gastrointest Endosc. 2004 Dec;60(6):921-6.

Prospective evaluation of screening colonoscopy: who is being screened?

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Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, St. Paul's Hospital, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.



Universal access to medical procedures is deemed an advantage of the Canadian health care system. The purposes of this prospective study were to determine the degree to which the practice of colon cancer screening by colonoscopy differed among socioeconomic classes and to assess adherence to screening guidelines.


Consecutive patients scheduled to undergo colonoscopy at a single center between August 2000 and August 2002 completed a questionnaire that determined patient characteristics and indications for the procedure. The patients were divided into two groups: screening patients, defined as individuals who indicated they were undergoing colonoscopy for screening purposes and were asymptomatic, and a control group, which comprised patients undergoing colonoscopy because of symptoms. Statistical analysis was performed to determine if patients in the screening group had different characteristics with respect to socioeconomic class, compared with the control group.


A total of 1088 patients completed the questionnaire: 707 (65%) had colonoscopy because of symptoms, compared with 381 (35%) who underwent a screening examination. Mean age and marital status were similar in both groups. Of all colonoscopy procedures, there was a significantly greater proportion of men undergoing colonoscopy for screening purposes: 199 (52.2%) vs. 294 (41.6%) in the symptomatic group ( p = 0.001). Based on the Cochran-Armitage test, patients in the screening group had significantly higher education levels ( p = 0.004) and household incomes ( p = 0.001).


Income and education level, two indices of socioeconomic status, are statistically significantly higher in patients undergoing screening colonoscopy compared with those having colonoscopy for any other reason.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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