Improving uptake of colorectal cancer screening among primary care attendees

Despite innovative programs to increase colorectal cancer (CRC) screening amongst people >50 years of age, such the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP), current screening rates are low. Only 35% of targeted individuals take up screening offered by the NBCSP.1 Since few symptoms manifest at early stages of CRC, screening is an essential tool for prevention. Methods to increase current screening rates are urgently required. This project consists of three sub-studies designed to explore the acceptability and feasibility of methods to increase participation in CRC screening in general practice (GP) patient populations. Australians consult their GP 6.5 times per year,2 these consultations represent an opportunity to assess and recommend appropriate screening for CRC. This program of works aims to develop and test innovative approaches to improving CRC screening rates among primary care attendees. Study 1 will explore the self-reported rate of CRC screening participation and perceived barriers to CRC screening participation. Study 2 will compare the impact of providing standard and tailored feedback on screening recommendations on primary care patients’ screening knowledge and behaviour. Study 3 will test the acceptability and feasibility of a touchscreen delivered CRC risk assessment tool followed by free point-of care FOBT kit to primary care patients assessed as at eligible for CRC screening. GPs will reinforce the importance of screening participation within the consultation.  FOBT given at point-of-care has been shown to substantially increase the proportion that complete screening.3 Cancer is a national health priority area. By developing effective ways to improve CRC screening there is potential to have significant impact on cancer outcomes in Australia. This project is a first step in developing an intervention which aims to improve CRC screening among average risk persons aged 50-75 and strongly aligns with the HMRI’s Public Health program focus on cancer prevention and focus on increasing CRC screening.


Ms Natalie Dodd, L/Prof Rob Sanson-Fisher, Dr Mariko Carey, Dr Elise Mansfield, Dr Chris Oldmeadow

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