Prospective Study of the Quality of Colonoscopies Performed by Primary Care Physicians: The Alberta Primary Care Endoscopy (APC-Endo) Study

PLoS One. 2013 Jun 27;8(6):e67017. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067017. Print 2013.


Background: The quality of colonoscopies performed by primary care physicians (PCPs) is unknown.

Objective: To determine whether PCP colonoscopists achieve colonoscopy quality benchmarks, and patient satisfaction with having their colonoscopy performed by a primary care physician.

Design: Prospective multi-center, multi-physician observational study. Colonoscopic quality data collection occurred via completion of case report forms and pathological confirmation of lesions. Patient satisfaction was captured by a telephone survey.

Setting: Thirteen rural and suburban hospitals in Alberta, Canada.

Measurements: Proportion of successful cecal intubations, average number of adenomas detected per colonoscopy, proportion of patients with at least one adenoma, and serious adverse event rates; patient satisfaction with their wait time and procedure, as well as willingness to have a repeat colonoscopy performed by their primary care endoscopist.

Results: In the two-month study period, 10 study physicians performed 577 colonoscopies. The overall adjusted proportion of successful cecal intubations was 96.5% (95% CI 94.6-97.8), and all physicians achieved the adjusted cecal intubation target of ≥90%. The average number of ademonas detected per colonoscopy was 0.62 (95% CI 0.5-0.74). 46.4% (95% CI 38.5-54.3) of males and 30.2% (95% CI 22.3-38.2) of females ≥50 years of age having their first colonoscopy, had at least one adenoma. Four serious adverse events occurred (three post polypectomy bleeds and one perforation) and 99.3% of patients were willing to have a repeat colonoscopy performed by their primary care colonoscopist.

Limitations: Two-month study length and non-universal participation by Alberta primary care endoscopists.

Conclusions: Primary care physician colonoscopists can achieve quality benchmarks in colonoscopy. Training additional primary care physicians in endoscopy may improve patient access and decrease endoscopic wait times, especially in rural settings.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Adenoma / psychology
  • Alberta
  • Colonoscopy* / adverse effects
  • Colonoscopy* / psychology
  • Early Detection of Cancer / adverse effects
  • Early Detection of Cancer / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / therapeutic use
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Physicians, Primary Care*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Rural Population
  • Suburban Population
  • Time Factors


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives

Grant support

The study was funded by the Alberta Rural Physician Action Plan. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript