Background: Colorectal screening by Flexible Sigmoidoscopy (FS) is under evaluation in the UK. Evidence from existing cancer screening programmes indicates lower participation among minority ethnic groups than the white-British population. To ensure equality of access, it is important to understand attitudes towards screening in all ethnic groups so that barriers to screening acceptance can be addressed.
Methods: Open- and closed-ended questions on knowledge about colorectal cancer and attitudes to FS screening were added to Ethnibus--a monthly, nationwide survey of the main ethnic minority communities living in the UK (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Caribbean, African, and Chinese). Interviews (n = 875) were conducted, face-to-face, by multilingual field-workers, including 125 interviews with white-British adults.
Results: All respondents showed a notable lack of knowledge about causes of colorectal cancer, which was more pronounced in ethnic minority than white-British adults. Interest in FS screening was uniformly high (>60%), with more than 90% of those interested saying it would provide 'peace of mind'. The most frequently cited barrier to screening 'in your community' was embarrassment, particularly among ethnic minority groups.
Conclusion: Educational materials should recognise that non-white groups may be less knowledgeable about colorectal cancer. The findings of the current study suggest that embarrassment may be a greater deterrent to participation to FS screening among ethnic minority groups, but this result requires exploration in further research.