Colorectal Cancer Screening Among South Asians: Focus Group Findings on Attitudes, Knowledge, Barriers and Facilitators

J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2018;29(4):1416-1437. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2018.0104.


Background: Colorectal cancer (CRC) screening rates are low among South Asians. Understanding barriers and facilitators about CRC screening among South Asians may inform effective messaging and interventions.

Methods: We conducted eight focus groups (FGs) among South Asians to gather contextual information about CRC causes, screening barriers and facilitators, and cultural factors affecting screening.

Findings: An overarching sentiment across Asian Indian and Bangladeshi FGs was that cancer is considered a death sentence. However, many participants were unaware that CRC was a problem in their communities, and considered CRC screening as a low priority. Women often thought of CRC as mostly affecting men. Physician influence on screening decisions was most frequently discussed among Bangladeshis, as were sentiments of shame and modesty that may prevent screening.

Conclusion: Findings highlight that physicians should provide culturally-appropriate CRC information for South Asian patients, and the importance of access to CRC screening for South Asians.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Asia, Western
  • Asian People / psychology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Diet
  • Early Detection of Cancer / psychology*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology*
  • Physician's Role
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors