Why don't gastroenterologists follow colon polyp surveillance guidelines?: results of a national survey

J Clin Gastroenterol. 2009 Jul;43(6):554-8. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0b013e31818242ad.


Goals: To measure knowledge and acceptance of colon polyp surveillance guidelines among gastroenterologists.

Background: Gastroenterologists often perform surveillance colonoscopy sooner than recommended by guidelines. Lack of knowledge may be an important factor, but gastroenterologists could also simply disagree with guideline recommendations.

Study: A 24-item multiple-choice survey was developed from the 2003 multisociety colorectal cancer screening and surveillance guideline. The survey was distributed to practicing gastroenterologists preparing for the gastroenterology board recertification examination at 2 major national gastroenterology board review courses. For each question, subjects were given a clinical scenario and asked: (1) the guideline recommendation for the scenario; (2) their usual practice in the scenario; and, (3) if they definitely knew the recommendation or were simply guessing at the correct answer. If a respondent knew the recommendation but differed in their usual practice, this was considered disagreement with the recommendation.

Results: The survey was completed by 57.1% (116/203) of gastroenterologists preparing for 2004 recertification. Seventy-eight percent reported that they were familiar with the 2003 guideline, though only 57% reported that guidelines were "very influential" in their practice. Many did not correctly answer questions on the recommended interval for hyperplastic polyps (12%), 2 small adenomas (36%), 3 small adenomas (49%), and adenoma with high-grade dysplasia (41%). Of gastroenterologists who knew the guideline recommendations, up to 76% disagreed with the recommendations and chose to perform surveillance sooner than recommended.

Conclusions: Though many gastroenterologists lack knowledge about guideline recommendations for colon polyp surveillance, even those who know the recommendations often ignore them and perform surveillance colonoscopy sooner than recommended.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Colonic Polyps / diagnosis*
  • Colonic Polyps / pathology
  • Colonoscopy / standards*
  • Colonoscopy / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Gastroenterology / standards*
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires