Socioeconomic variation in uptake of colonoscopy following a positive faecal occult blood test result: a retrospective analysis of the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme

Br J Cancer. 2012 Aug 21;107(5):765-71. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2012.303. Epub 2012 Aug 2.


Background: Bowel cancer is a serious health burden and its early diagnosis improves survival. The Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (BCSP) in England screens with the Faecal Occult Blood test (FOBt), followed by colonoscopy for individuals with a positive test result. Socioeconomic inequalities have been demonstrated for FOBt uptake, but it is not known whether they persist at the next stage of the screening pathway. The aim of this study was to assess the association between colonoscopy uptake and area socioeconomic deprivation, controlling for individual age and sex, and area ethnic diversity, population density, poor self-assessed health, and region.

Methods: Logistic regression analysis of colonoscopy uptake using BCSP data for England between 2006 and 2009 for 24 180 adults aged between 60 and 69 years.

Results: Overall colonoscopy uptake was 88.4%. Statistically significant variation in uptake is found between quintiles of area deprivation (ranging from 86.4 to 89.5%), as well as age and sex groups (87.9-89.1%), quintiles of poor self-assessed health (87.5-89.5%), non-white ethnicity (84.6-90.6%) and population density (87.9-89.3%), and geographical regions (86.4-90%).

Conclusion: Colonoscopy uptake is high. The variation in uptake by socioeconomic deprivation is small, as is variation by subgroups of age and sex, poor self-assessed health, ethnic diversity, population density, and region.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Colonoscopy / economics
  • Colonoscopy / statistics & numerical data
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / economics*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods*
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • National Health Programs
  • Occult Blood
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Survival Rate
  • United Kingdom