Patient attitudes towards changes in colorectal cancer surveillance: An application of the Health Belief Model

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Objective: This is to determine whether health beliefs regarding colorectal cancer (CRC) screening could predict discomfort with a change to CRC surveillance proposing regular faecal immunochemical tests (FIT) instead of colonoscopy.

Methods: Eight hundred individuals enrolled in a South Australian colonoscopy surveillance programme were invited to complete a survey on surveillance preferences. Responses were analysed using binary logistic regression predicting discomfort with a hypothetical FIT-based surveillance change. Predictor variables included constructs based on the Health Belief Model: perceived threat of CRC, perceived confidence to complete FIT and colonoscopy (self-efficacy), perceived benefits from current surveillance and perceived barriers to FIT and colonoscopy.

Results: A total of 408 participants (51%) returned the survey (complete data n = 303; mean age 62 years, 52% male). Most participants (72%) were uncomfortable with FIT-based surveillance reducing colonoscopy frequency. This attitude was predicted by a higher perceived threat of CRC (OR = 1.03 [95% CI 1.01–1.04]), higher colonoscopy self-efficacy (OR = 1.34 [95% CI 1.13–1.59]) and lower perceived barriers to colonoscopy (OR = 0.92 [95% CI 0.86–0.99]). 

Conclusions: Health beliefs regarding colonoscopy and perceived threat of CRC may be important to consider when changing CRC surveillance protocols. If guideline changes were introduced, these factors should be addressed to provide patients reassurance concerning the efficacy of the alternative protocol.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13713
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer Care
Issue number6
Early online date24 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • Colonoscopy
  • colorectal neoplasms
  • early detection of cancer
  • faecal occult blood test
  • patient preference
  • population surveillance


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