Objective: To investigate predictors of attendance in the United Kingdom flexible sigmoidoscopy screening trial.
Design: Prospective design in which participants completed a postal questionnaire before being sent their invitation for screening.
Setting: Welwyn Garden City and Leicester, United Kingdom.
Participants: A total of 2758 patients aged 55 to 64, registered with general practices in the two centres, who (a) expressed interest in having the screening test, (b) completed a postal questionnaire, and (c) were subsequently invited for screening.
Main results: The attendance rate among questionnaire responders was 76.1%. Multiple logistic regression analysis yielded a final model that included nine independent predictors of attendance. Patients with the following characteristics were more likely to attend: men; home owners; non-smokers; those who had regular check ups at the dentist; those with better subjective health; those who minded less about having medical tests; those who said they would definitely rather than probably take up the offer of sigmoidoscopy screening; and those who perceived less barriers and more benefits to having the test.
Conclusions: The findings are broadly consistent with previous studies of screening participation, although subjective health emerged as an important predictor in this study. There was no evidence for "reverse targeting": attenders were not at lower (or higher) risk for colorectal cancer compared with non-attenders. The findings relating to attitudes and beliefs could be used in efforts to improve attendance, for example by developing information leaflets that address barriers to screening. Other findings could be used to target interventions to subgroups that have relatively low rates of screening participation.