Factors associated with consultation behaviour for primary symptoms potentially indicating colorectal cancer: a cross-sectional study on response to symptoms

BMC Gastroenterol. 2012 Aug 3;12:100. doi: 10.1186/1471-230X-12-100.

Abstract

Background: Little data exists on the factors associated with health care seeking behaviour for primary symptoms of colorectal cancer (CRC). This study aimed to identify individual, provider and psychosocial factors associated with (i) ever seeking medical advice and (ii) seeking early medical advice for primary symptoms of colorectal cancer (CRC).

Methods: 1592 persons aged 56-88 years randomly selected from the Hunter Community Study (HCS) were sent a questionnaire.

Results: Males and those who had received screening advice from a doctor were at significantly higher odds of ever seeking medical advice for rectal bleeding. Persons who had private health coverage, consulted a doctor because the 'symptom was serious', or who did not wait to consult a doctor for another reason were at significantly higher odds of seeking early medical advice (< 2 weeks). For change in bowel habit, persons with lower income, within the healthy weight range, or who had discussed their family history of CRC irrespective of whether informed of 'increased risk' were at significantly higher odds of ever seeking medical advice. Persons frequenting their GP less often and seeing their doctor because the symptom persisted were at significantly higher odds of seeking early medical advice (< 2 weeks).

Conclusions: The seriousness of symptoms, importance of early detection, and prompt consultation must be articulated in health messages to at-risk persons. This study identified modifiable factors, both individual and provider-related to consultation behaviour. Effective health promotion efforts must heed these factors and target sub-groups less likely to seek early medical advice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Defecation
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / psychology
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Class
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Symptom Assessment / psychology*