Colorectal cancer screening attitudes and practices in the general population: a risk-adjusted survey

J Public Health Manag Pract. May-Jun 2005;11(3):244-51. doi: 10.1097/00124784-200505000-00010.


Objectives: To characterize self-reported colorectal cancer (CRC) screening behavior, and to identify characteristics of CRC screening practices, stratified by risk.

Methods: Using random-digit-dial methodology, we conducted telephone surveys in US adults 50 years of age and older. Respondents provided data on utilization of CRC screening tests; demographic characteristics; and awareness, concerns, attitudes and beliefs about the tests, CRC, and health care. On the basis of available guidelines, three definitions of adequate screening were considered.

Results: Among persons reporting having ever had a CRC screening exam, the exam was more likely to have been a fecal occult blood test than a radiologic or endoscopic exam (p < .0001). Subjects at increased CRC risk were more likely to have met the screening criteria (p < .001) compared with average-risk subjects. Receipt of information or advice about cancer screening tests, male gender, and concern about managed care were positively associated with adequate screening. Smoking, low health self-monitoring, and an average risk for CRC reduced the probability of CRC screening.

Conclusions: Lack of awareness about screening remains common, regardless of CRC risk. Providing information and advice about cancer screening may be the single most important tool available to improve screening rates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mass Screening* / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Risk
  • United States