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Cancer Causes Control. 2011 Sep;22(9):1277-87. doi: 10.1007/s10552-011-9801-0. Epub 2011 Jun 28.

Primary care physician compliance with colorectal cancer screening guidelines.

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Arizona Cancer Center, University of Arizona, PO Box 245024, Tucson, AZ 85724, USA.



To assess self-reported compliance to colorectal cancer (CRC) screening guidelines among primary care physicians (PCPs) and to assess physician and practice characteristics associated with reported compliance.


Survey data from 984 PCPs in Arizona were used. Self-reported CRC screening practices, recommendations, and compliance with guidelines were assessed. Physician and practice characteristics associated with guideline compliance were also evaluated.


While 77.5% of physicians reported using national screening guidelines, only 51.7% reported recommendations consistent with the guidelines. Younger physicians were significantly more likely to report compliance with screening guidelines (OR = 1.50, 95% CI = 1.07-2.10) as were female clinicians (OR = 1.46, 95% CI = 1.11-1.92). Physicians practicing in solo (OR = 0.33, 95% CI = 0.19-0.58), group (OR = 0.36, 95% CI = 0.21-0.62), or community health centers (OR = 0.37, 95% CI = 0.17-0.81) were significantly less likely to report following guidelines as compared to those in academic practice. Guideline compliance was higher for fecal occult blood test (FOBT) (65.0%) than colonoscopy (56.7%); overuse of screening for these modalities was reported among 34.4% of physicians.


PCPs are not adequately following CRC screening guidelines. Further studies are needed to clarify the reasons for this lack of compliance, especially as guidelines become more complex.

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