Measuring Patient Preferences, Physician Recommendations For Colon Cancer Screening

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Many physicians and researchers have asked the same question: what is most important to patients when deciding between colorectal screening methods?

With 23 million Americans not receiving their recommended colon cancer screening, it is important to investigate why patients don't adhere to the guidelines and get screened. A new study published last week in the American Journal of Managed Care may provide useful insights.

The objective of the research was to evaluate the connections between patients' preferences for different colon cancer screening options, physician screening recommendations during periodic health exams, and subsequent completion of colorectal screening within 12 months of the recommendation.1

There are several options for colon cancer screening, but other studies show that colonoscopy and fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) are primarily used in clinical practice.2 Low screening rates, combined with the existence of more than one testing option, have led researchers to suggest that offering patients the test they prefer may be an effective method for increasing screening adherence.3

The results showed that most patients had a weak preference for colonoscopy (41.0%) and a weak or unclear preference for FOBT (22.4%), and that about half (56%) completed their screening within 12 months. These results suggest that patients may need assistance in clarifying which characteristics of each test matter most strongly to them in making a decision about colon cancer screening.

The results also suggest that physicians are generally willing to consider their patients' preferences for tests other than colonoscopy when making a screening recommendation. This means that colorectal screening adherence may increase if preferences are incorporated into physician recommendations.

Download our Doctor Discussion Guide and have a conversation about colon cancer screening on your next primary care visit, because colon cancer is entirely preventable with screening.

Other News From Around the Web

  • Huffington Post blogger Marcia Kester Doyle offers a humorous take on how colonoscopy really isn't that scary.
  • Scientists have finally decoded enigmatic junk DNA that may contribute to the development of cancer.
  • A new study focuses on colon cancer risk among family members of patients with the disease.
  • An interesting article on the benefits of medical technology research and development, not just for health care but for the economy at large.

Image Source: "Relación Médico Paciente". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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Topics: Colon Cancer News

"Managed Care Patients' Preferences, Physician Recommendations, and Colon Cancer Screening." AJMC. American Journal of Managed Care, n.d. Web.

Klabunde CN, Lanier D, Nadel MR, et al. Colorectal cancer screening by primary care physicians: recommendations and practices, 2006– 2007. Am J Prev Med. 2009;37:8-16

Woolf S. Overcoming the barriers to change: screening for colorectal cancer. Am Fam Physician. 2000;61:1621-1628