Objective: To describe the cultural, social and gender features that determine attitudes to colorectal cancer screening in a target group of patients aged 50 to 69 years old in the primary health care setting.
Methods: We performed a qualitative ethnographic study from a gender perspective. Participants consisted of men and women aged 50 to 69 years old in the Balearic Islands and Barcelona. Group discussion and a field diary were used.
Results: The key element was diagnosis at an early stage. Until recently, cancer was considered an incurable disease but is currently perceived as a serious health problem that can be cured if diagnosed promptly. The participants requested more information on cancer and felt they were at risk, mainly because of their age. Men tended to pay attention to symptoms while women tended to ignore them. Attitudes to colorectal cancer screening were generally positive, even to colonoscopy. Some barriers to screening were identified in women, such as a fear of having cancer.
Conclusions: The opportunity for early diagnosis is the key element in promoting participation in a colorectal cancer screening program. Perceptions-and hence willingness to participate in screening-differ between men and women. Factors to be taken into account in the design of population-based colorectal cancer programs are health concerns in men and fear of a cancer diagnosis in women.
Keywords: Actitudes y práctica en salud; Atención primaria de salud; Attitudes; Colorectal neoplasms; Conocimientos; Health knowledge; Investigación cualitativa; Neoplasias colorrectales; Practices; Prevención secundaria; Primary health care; Qualitative research; Secondary prevention.
Copyright © 2012 SESPAS. Published by Elsevier Espana. All rights reserved.