Colorectal cancer screening: how to help patients comply

J Fam Pract. 2008 Jul;57(7):E2-7.


Purpose: We elicited patient opinions about how physicians can improve communications about colorectal cancer (CRC) screening.

Methods: We recruited 15 patients, ages 50 years and older, from an urban family medicine teaching clinic. All patients in the initial pool of candidates had been seen at the university of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Family Medical Center within the past 12 months. The recruits participated in 1 of 3 focus groups to discuss how to enhance the rate of CRC screening. Participants watched a videotape that described the different approaches to CRC screening. We then asked them to comment on how patients could be encouraged to undergo CRC screening.

Results: using a qualitative analysis of focus group data, we determined the most common reasons participants had not undergone CRC screening: fear, lack of information, and failure of the physician to strongly recommend CRC screening. Participants offered 7 recommendations for how physicians could address their concerns. Participants emphasized the importance of strong physician endorsement of screening, of frank and informative dialogue about patient's concerns, and of using educational materials to supplement personal advice.

Conclusion: A physician's recommendation for screening is the most powerful motivator in patients' decisions. However, other sources of information such as videotapes, written materials, and even endorsement of CRC screening by the clinic's office staff can help patients decide to undergo screening.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arkansas
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / psychology
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Patient Compliance / psychology*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires