Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Despite evidence that screening reduces CRC incidence and mortality, only about 60% of age-eligible adults are up-to-date on CRC screening. This analysis aims to identify self-reported barriers to CRC screening among patients in a safety-net healthcare setting. Participants were recruited from safety-net primary care sites that were participating in a trial to increase CRC screening. At baseline, patients (n = 483) completed self-report surveys that assessed demographics, healthcare and CRC screening. Barriers to CRC screening were assessed through an open-ended question. Using a basic text analysis, data were coded and organized into key topics. Overall, 65.2% ever had CRC screening; 46.4% were up-to-date. Of those who described barriers (n = 198), 22.9% said they were not due for screening or their provider had not recommended it. Other common barriers included fear or worry about the procedure or outcome, financial challenges such as lack of insurance or cost of testing, and logistic challenges such as transportation and time. Fewer said that screening was of low importance or mentioned discomfort with the procedure or colonoscopy preparation. In this safety-net setting, CRC screening rates were lower than national rates. These qualitative results are similar to quantitative findings reported in the literature but the qualitative data add to our understanding of patient-reported concerns and challenges faced by safety-net patients. These results may be applied to developing targeting communication or intervention strategies to improve CRC screening rates within safety-net health centers.
Keywords: Colorectal neoplasms; Early detection of cancer; Healthcare disparities; Medically underserved area.