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Can J Gastroenterol. 2008 Jan;22(1):41-7.

Acceptance of colonoscopy requires more than test tolerance.

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  • 1Section of Gastroenterology, St Boniface General Hospital, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.



Colon cancer screening, including colonoscopy, lags behind other forms of cancer screening for participation rates. The intrinsic nature of the endoscopic procedure may be an important barrier that limits patients from finding this test acceptable and affects willingness to undergo screening. With colon cancer screening programs emerging in Canada, test characteristics and their impact on acceptance warrant consideration.


To measure the acceptability of colonoscopy and define factors that contribute to procedural acceptability, in relation to another invasive gastrointestinal scope procedure, gastroscopy.


Consecutive patients undergoing a colonoscopy (n=55) or a gastroscopy (n=33) were recruited. Their procedural experience was evaluated and compared pre-endoscopy, immediately before testing and postendoscopy. Questionnaires were used to capture multiple domains of the endoscopy experience and patient characteristics.


Patient scope groups did not differ preprocedurally for general or procedure-specific anxiety. However, the colonoscopy group did anticipate more pain. Those who had a gastroscopy demonstrated higher preprocedural acceptance than those who had a colonoscopy. The colonoscopy group had a significant decrease in scope concerns and anxiety postprocedurally. As well, they reported less pain than they anticipated. Regardless, postprocedurally, the colonoscopy group's acceptance did not increase significantly, whereas the gastroscopy group was almost unanimous in their test acceptance. The best predictor of pretest acceptability of colonoscopy was anticipated pain.


The findings indicate that concerns that relate specifically to colonoscopy, including anticipated pain, influence acceptability of the procedure. However, the experience of a colonoscopy does not lead to improved test acceptance, despite decreases in procedural anxiety and pain. Patients' preprocedural views of the test are most important and should be addressed directly to potentially improve participation in colonoscopy.

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