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Eur J Public Health. 2016 Feb;26(1):176-81. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckv207. Epub 2015 Nov 4.

Making decisions about colorectal cancer screening. A qualitative study among citizens with lower educational attainment.

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1 Department of Public Health Programmes, Randers Regional Hospital, Denmark 2 Research Unit for General Practice, School of Public Health, Aarhus University, Denmark
3 AnthroConsult, Fynsgade 24, Aarhus C 8000, Denmark.
1 Department of Public Health Programmes, Randers Regional Hospital, Denmark.



Few decision aids (DAs) have been developed to support an informed choice to citizens with lower educational attainment about colorectal cancer screening. The aim of this study was to identify information needs and preferences for formats and content in a DA for this group of citizens.


Four focus groups were conducted among Danish men and women aged 50-74 years with lower educational attainment. A semi-structured interview guide was developed to explore participants' perceptions about colorectal cancer screening and wishes for a DA. The interviews were transcribed and analysed using an ethnographic approach.


The participants appreciated information about the causes, symptoms, incidence and mortality of colorectal cancer compared with other common cancers. The majority preferred the information to be presented in a clear and simple way with numbers and figures kept to a minimum. Values clarification exercises were not found useful. Receiving a screening kit to collect a sample of faeces along with the invitation letter was seen by the participants as a clear request from the health authorities to get screened. However, the overall message in the DA was perceived as ambiguous by the participants as it both recommended screening and seemed to disclaim responsibility for it.


The results are relevant to a discussion of the delicate balance between participants' call for a clear recommendation, and the purpose of a DA to present options in a neutral and balanced way. This discussion is relevant beyond the group of citizens with lower educational attainment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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