Objectives: The aim of the study was to examine ethnic differences in participation in colorectal cancer screening by flexible sigmoidoscopy (FS). It assessed both intentions to be screened and actual screening uptake, and considered whether demographic, health and psychosocial factors mediated the ethnic differences. The setting of this study follows a subset of participants from the UK FS Trial.
Methods: A postal questionnaire assessed ethnicity, demographic characteristics, health, attitudes to screening and FS screening intentions. Data on screening intentions were available for 17,333 adults aged 55-64 years (Sample 1). Screening uptake was recorded in a subsample of 4303 respondents who were subsequently randomized to receive an invitation to screening (Sample 2).
Results: Screening intentions in Sample 1 were equally high across all the ethnic groups (>80% [13,724/17,042] reported they were interested). In contrast, attendance (Sample 2) was considerably lower among Asians (54% [43/79]) compared with White (69% [2843/4123]) or Black (80% [33/41]) respondents. Multivariate analysis showed that potential explanatory factors, including socioeconomic deprivation, poor health and fearful and fatalistic attitudes did not account for the lower screening attendance among Asians.
Conclusion: Further research is required to identify explanations for the gap between intentions and behaviour in UK Asians if any future FS screening programme is to be introduced equitably.