Objectives: To investigate attitudes among primary care physicians and potential patients concerning "virtual" and conventional colonoscopy for colorectal cancer screening.
Methods: We sent 1000 questionnaires to primary care physicians by electronic or postal mail and administered 400 to potential patients. Questionnaires contained progressively detailed information about the tests and asked for choices based on information presented.
Results: One hundred eight-eight primary care physicians and 323 potential patients were included. Results indicated the following: 76.6% of potential patients and 47.3% of physicians initially preferred virtual colonoscopy because of its noninvasive nature; 23.6% of potential patients and 52.9% of physicians valued the ability of conventional colonoscopy to visualize the mucosa directly; and 67.4% of potential patients and 51.6% of physicians preferred virtual colonoscopy because it does not require sedation. Considering all information, most potential patients preferred virtual to conventional colonoscopy (60.2% vs 25.7%), whereas more physicians preferred conventional to virtual colonoscopy (44.9% vs 30.3%). Additionally, 82.3% of potential patients would comply more with recommendations for colorectal cancer screening, and 61.7% of physicians would refer more patients for screening, if virtual colonoscopy was available.
Conclusions: Potential patients preferred virtual to conventional colonoscopy, whereas physicians favored conventional colonoscopy. Physicians placed more importance on the ability of conventional colonoscopy to visualize the mucosa directly, the opportunity for therapy, and cost. Potential patients were more encouraged than physicians by the availability of virtual colonoscopy for improving participation in colorectal cancer screening.