Background: Fewer than half of Americans have been screened for colorectal cancer (CRC), a largely preventable disease.
Methods: All physician members (n = 1030) of the Iowa Academy of Family Physicians were mailed a 3-page investigator-developed survey about their attitudes, barriers, and practices regarding CRC screening.
Results: The usable response rate was 29%. Forty-three percent practiced in rural settings. Ninety-five percent felt that they were well informed about American Cancer Society guidelines and 90% tried to follow the guidelines. Most doctors (88%) disagreed with the statement that there was "no time to adequately discuss screening," but they would like more time to discuss screening. Only 40% felt their medical records were organized to easily determine screening status, 40% encouraged office staff to participate in screening, and 16% had a written policy regarding CRC screening. Physicians estimated that they recommend screening to 78% of their patients and that 54% of their patients were actually up-to-date. Discussion of CRC screening was strongly dependent on visit type, with physicians estimating that CRC screening is discussed at 11% of acute visits, 42% of chronic visits, and 87% of health maintenance visits. Several office system factors were associated with a recommendation for screening in a multivariable linear regression model (R = 0.33).
Conclusions: Although nearly all physicians felt that they were well informed about American Cancer Society guidelines and tried to follow guidelines for CRC screening, few had office systems to facilitate screening. Physicians would like more time to discuss screening. Office systems likely have the most potential to improve CRC screening among patients attending primary care practices.