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Am J Manag Care. 2007 Jul;13(7):393-400.

Patient preferences for colorectal cancer screening: how does stool DNA testing fare?

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.



To assess patient preferences for 1 of the recommended colorectal cancer screening options or stool DNA testing (sDNA), a novel noninvasive screening test.


Cross-sectional survey of ambulatory-care patients in the primary care setting.


A decision aid was administered to eligible subjects, using a trained interviewer format. The decision aid described the pros and cons of colonoscopy, fecal occult blood testing (FOBT), flexible sigmoidoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy plus FOBT, double-contrast barium enema, and sDNA. After reviewing the decision aid, subjects were asked to identify a preferred screening option, test features influencing their choice, and level of interest in decision making.


A total of 263 subjects completed the study. Colonoscopy (50.6%), sDNA (28.1%), and FOBT (18.3%) were preferred over the other screening options. Preferences were associated with race and education but not age, sex, or prior FOBT. Subjects who preferred colonoscopy rated accuracy as the most influential test feature, whereas those who preferred sDNA or FOBT rated concerns about discomfort or frequency of testing highest. Most subjects preferred a shared (54%) or patient-dominant (34%) decision-making process.


Colonoscopy was the most frequently preferred screening option for average risk individuals. Noninvasive stool-based tests, particularly sDNA, were identified by most individuals who preferred an alternative to colonoscopy. These findings affirm the need to elicit patient preferences when selecting a screening option and suggest that provider-patient decision making can be tailored to include fewer options.

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