The impact of individually-tailored lifestyle advice in the colorectal cancer screening context: a randomised pilot study in North-West London

Prev Med. 2010 Dec;51(6):505-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2010.10.002. Epub 2010 Oct 13.


Objective: The screening context may provide a "teachable moment" for promoting health behaviours. The present study examined the impact on diet, alcohol and physical activity of providing individually-tailored advice in the context of flexible sigmoidoscopy (FS) screening.

Method: Adults (n=365) aged 58-59 years who attended FS screening between 2006 and 2008 and had no abnormalities detected were randomised to one of three groups: (i) control (usual care); (ii) standard leaflet on healthy lifestyle; or (iii) standard leaflet plus brief, tailored feedback based on information from the pre-screening questionnaire. A 6-month follow-up questionnaire assessed group differences in fruit and vegetable consumption, alcohol intake and physical activity.

Results: More people in the tailored group were meeting the 5-a-day fruit and vegetable recommendation at 6 months (OR: 2.28, CI[1.09, 4.76]). For physical activity there was a non-significant trend towards meeting current activity guidelines in the tailored group (OR: 1.26, CI[0.62, 2.55]). Alcohol intake was low overall and did not change in any group.

Conclusion: Tailored advice given in the context of cancer screening may provide an opportunity to improve dietary behaviours. Further research is needed to determine whether screening provides a unique "teachable moment" or if similar effects can be achieved in other health settings.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Counseling / methods*
  • Diet
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • London
  • Motor Activity
  • Pilot Projects
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Sigmoidoscopy