Self-reported participation and beliefs about bowel cancer screening in New South Wales, Australia
Issue addressed: To describe self-reported bowel cancer screening participation, beliefs and attitudes in a sample of New South Wales (NSW) adults, and to identify beliefs and demographic factors associated with self-reported bowel cancer screening participation.
Methods: This study used data from the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership Module 2, a representative population-based telephone survey. Self-reported participation in and beliefs about bowel cancer screening were measured using the Awareness and Beliefs about Cancer survey of people aged 50 years and over living in NSW, Australia (n = 2001). Logistic regression modelling was used to identify explanatory variables associated with bowel cancer screening participation.
Results: Half of all women (54.1%, 95% CI: 50.8–57.4%) and two-thirds of men (65.7%, 95% CI: 61.5–69.9%) reported screening for bowel cancer within the previous 5 years. Believing that screening was only necessary when experiencing symptoms was more likely to be endorsed by people aged 65 years and over (25.5%, 95% CI: 22.2–28.7%) rather than younger (50–64 years; 16.7%, 95% CI: 13.8–19.7%), non-English-speaking migrants (35.4%, 95% CI: 26.7–44.1%) versus others (18.6%, 95% CI: 16.4–20.7%), and people in metropolitan (23.3%, 95% CI: 20.4–26.1%) versus non-metropolitan areas (16.4%, 95% CI: 12.8–20%). People who disagreed that screening was only necessary when experiencing symptoms were four times more likely to report screening participation (OR 3.96, 95% CI: 3.11–5.03).
Conclusions: Community education about bowel cancer screening is needed to correct misperceptions regarding screening in the absence of symptoms. Tailored strategies for older, migrant and urban communities may be beneficial.
So what?: Education strategies that promote the need for screening in the absence of symptoms and correct misconceptions about bowel cancer screening amongst subgroups of the NSW population may improve screening rates and decrease the burden of bowel cancer in NSW.