Background: Little is known about the effect of participating in a colorectal cancer (CRC) screening programme on quality of life (QOL), neither for participants with a negative nor for those with a positive test result. These findings, however, are important to evaluate the impact of CRC screening.
Methods: Participants from CRC screening trials were sent a questionnaire, which included validated measures on generic health-related QOL, generic anxiety and screen-specific anxiety. Both faecal immunochemical test (FIT) and flexible sigmoidoscopy (FS) participants, either with negative or positive test results, were addressed.
Results: The response rate was 73% (1289 out of 1772) for FIT and 78% (536 out of 689) for FS participants, with mean ages varying from 63-66 years. Positive FIT participants had worse physical (PCS-12, 47.1 vs 48.3, P=0.02), but equal mental QOL scores (MCS-12, 51.1 vs 51.6, P=0.26). Positive and negative FS participants had similar QOL scores. Both FIT and FS participants with a positive test result reported more screen-specific anxiety than negative FIT and FS participants. Positive and negative FS participants had similar generic anxiety scores.
Conclusion: Our findings indicate that the burden of participating in CRC screening may be limited. Conducting a prospective study to confirm these results is recommended.