Purpose: This study reports the baseline knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and personal practices of health care professionals regarding colorectal cancer (CRC) screening in the High Plains Research Network (HPRN) of rural Colorado prior to a community-based educational intervention. It also examines the association between health care staff members' knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and personal practices for CRC screening and patient screening levels by practice.
Methods: Surveys were mailed to health care professionals in the HPRN. Participating clinics (n = 21) distributed patient surveys on CRC screening to persons aged > or =50 for a 2-week period in 2006.
Results: The survey response rate was 81% for providers (n = 46) and 90% for nursing staff (n = 63). Only 54% of health care professionals knew CRC is a leading cause of cancer deaths. When surveyed on their attitudes toward colon cancer, 92%"strongly agreed" or "agreed" that colon cancer is preventable. About 99% (n = 107) of providers and nurses "strongly agreed" or "agreed" that testing could identify problems before colon cancer starts. Most health care professionals (61%) aged > or =50 years had previously been tested and were up-to-date (52%) with screening. Provider knowledge was significantly associated with higher patient screening (P = .02), but provider attitudes and beliefs were not. Moreover, personal screening practices of health care professionals did not correlate with more patients screened.
Conclusion: Background knowledge of CRC among HPRN health care professionals could be improved. The RESULTS of this pilot study may help focus effective approaches such as increasing provider knowledge to enhance CRC screening in the relevant population.