Psychological Targets for Lung Cancer Screening Uptake: A Prospective Longitudinal Cohort Study

J Thorac Oncol. 2021 Dec;16(12):2016-2028. doi: 10.1016/j.jtho.2021.07.025. Epub 2021 Aug 14.


Introduction: Low uptake of low-dose computed tomography lung cancer screening by high-risk groups compromises its effectiveness and equity as a population-level early detection strategy. Numerous psychological factors are implicated qualitatively or retrospectively, but prospective data are needed to validate their associations with uptake behavior and specify psychological targets for intervention.

Methods: This is a prospective, longitudinal cohort study evaluating psychological correlates of lung cancer screening uptake. Ever-smokers (aged 55-77 y) were invited to a lung health check, at which low-dose computed tomography screening was offered through the SUMMIT Study-a multicenter screening implementation trial. One week after their screening invitation, 44,000 invitees were mailed the self-regulatory questionnaire for lung cancer screening. Regression analyses evaluated the constructs' associations with uptake (telephoning for an appointment) and sociodemographic characteristics.

Results: Higher odds of uptake were associated with both positive and negative perceptions. Positive perceptions included lung cancer controllability, benefits of early diagnosis, improved survival when lung cancer is detected early, willingness to be treated, and believing smoking cessation is effective in reducing risk. Negative perceptions included a higher lung cancer risk perception, negative beliefs about the consequences of lung cancer, perceiving lung cancer as stigmatized, and a negative emotional response. Although current smokers held the highest risk perceptions, they also reported negative perceptions that could undermine how they behave in response to their risk.

Conclusions: Interventions to improve uptake should focus on changing perceptions that affect how an individual reacts when they believe their risk of lung cancer is high.

Keywords: Behavioral Sciences; Inequalities; Intervention; Lung cancer screening; Uptake.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cohort Studies
  • Early Detection of Cancer*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Lung Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Mass Screening
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies