Objective: To assess attitudes and acceptability of Ontario consumers and doctors towards colorectal screening with faecal occult blood testing (FOBT) and colonoscopy.
Design, setting and participants: Focus groups with gender-specific samples of the population, high-risk gastroenterology patients and family doctors.
Method: Semi-structured interview guides used by facilitator to lead groups through knowledge of risk factors and prevention of colorectal cancer, the screening modalities, requirements for implementing screening programmes, barriers to screening and preferences towards screening.
Main findings: There were low levels of knowledge about colorectal cancer and its prevention in the general population. FOBT was an acceptable screening modality, but considerable education about its use and benefits would be necessary to implement a screening programme. Colonoscopy was not perceived to be a good choice for a primary screen in the general population. The high-risk group supported use of FOBT in the general population and emphasized the need for education. The doctors were more reluctant about screening, requesting clear guidelines. They also identified the time and resources that would be required if a screening programme were initiated.
Conclusion: While colorectal screening is acceptable in this sample, information and decision aids are required to enable consumers and providers to make effective decisions. Implementation of colorectal screening programmes requires substantial educational efforts for both consumers and doctors.