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Br J Cancer. 2015 Jan 6;112(1):199-206. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2014.569. Epub 2014 Nov 27.

Predictors of repeat participation in the NHS bowel cancer screening programme.

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Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Research Centre, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT , UK.
1] Bowel Cancer Screening Southern Programme Hub, Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Trust, Surrey Research Park, Guildford, Surrey, UK [2] Department of Biochemistry and Physiology, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, UK [3] Guildford Undetected Tumour Screening (GUTS) Charity, Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Trust, Guildford, Surrey, UK.
Bowel Cancer Screening Southern Programme Hub, Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Trust, Surrey Research Park, Guildford, Surrey, UK.



Most types of population-based cancer screening require repeat participation to be effective. This study investigated predictors of repeat participation in the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (BCSP).


The BCSP in England offers biennial colorectal cancer screening using a guaiac fecal occult blood test (gFOBt) from age 60-74 years. This analysis included 62,081 individuals aged 60-64 years at the time of the first invitation (R1). The main outcome was repeat participation at their second (R2) or third (R3) invitation. Behavioural measures derived from screening records included late return of the gFOBt kit, compliance with follow-up investigations and previous screening participation. Other potential predictors of repeat participation included results of individual test kit analysis (normal, weak positive, strong positive, spoilt) and the definitive result of the gFOBt screening episode (normal or abnormal). Age, sex and socioeconomic deprivation were also recorded.


Overall repeat uptake was 86.6% in R2 and 88.6% in R3. Late return of the test kit was consistently associated with lower uptake (R2: 82.3% vs 88.6%, P<0.001; R3: 84.5% vs 90.5%, P<0.001). A definitive abnormal gFOBt result in the previous screening episode was a negative predictor of repeat uptake (R2: 61.4% vs 86.8%, P<0.001; R3: 65.7% vs 88.8%, P<0.001). Weak positive (R2: 76.9% vs 86.8%, P<0.001; R3: 81.7% vs 88.8%, P<0.05) and spoilt test kits (R2: 79.0% vs 86.6%, NS; R3: 84.2% vs 92.2%, P<0.05) were associated with lower repeat uptake, but were not consistently independent predictors in all invitation rounds or subgroups. Among those with a definitive abnormal gFOBt result, noncompliance with follow-up in a previous screening episode was also associated with lower repeat uptake (R2: 24.3% vs 67.1%, P<0.001; R3: 43.2% vs 69.9%, P<0.001).


Behavioural markers and test results from previous screening episodes have been implicated in subsequent gFOBt uptake.

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