Self-reported bowel screening rates in older australians and the implications for public health screening programs

Ian Zajac, Ingrid Flight, Deborah Turnbull, Graeme Young, Stephen Cole, Carlene Wilson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Background This paper sought to determine the status of older Australians with regard to Bowel Cancer screening practices occurring outside of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. Method A random sample of N=25,511 urban Australians aged 50 to 74 years received a questionnaire via mail asking questions relating to bowel screening. N=8,762 (34.3%) returned a completed questionnaire. Results Approximately 33% (N=2863) of respondents indicated they had undergone colonoscopy in the preceding five years and 21% (N=1840) had used a Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) in the preceding 12 months. Furthermore, 27% (N=497) of those who had completed an FOBT had also undergone colonoscopy. Conclusion A significant proportion of older Australians might be participating in bowel screening practices outside of the national program (NBCSP). Moreover, the proportion of individuals reporting use of both FOBT and endoscopic services is much higher than the positivity rate of FOBT. Large population FOBT screening programs, such as the NBCSP, that do not consider participation in screening external to the program may underestimate true population screening rates.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)411-417
    Number of pages7
    JournalAustralasian Medical Journal
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • Colorectal cancer screening
    • Faecal occult blood test
    • National bowel cancer screening program
    • Screening participation


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