, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 263-278

Colorectal Cancer Screening in Older Men and Women: Qualitative Research Findings and Implications for Intervention

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Abstract

As part of the formative research for developing interventions to increase colorectal cancer screening in men and women aged 50 and older, 14 focus groups were conducted to identify (1) knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about colorectal cancer and colorectal cancer screening, (2) barriers to screening, and (3) strategies for motivating and supporting behavior change. Participants had either private insurance or Medicare and reported different levels of experience with colorectal cancer screening. Overall, they were poorly informed about colorectal cancer and the possible benefits of screening, reporting little or no information from physicians or mass media, negative attitudes toward screening procedures, and fear of cancer. Despite references to the subject matter as embarrassing or private, both men and women, African Americans and whites, appeared to talk candidly and comfortably in the permissive context of the focus group. This study's findings suggest that public education campaigns, decision aids, and targeted interventions are urgently needed to put colorectal cancer screening on the public's “radar screen,” to increase awareness of the prevention and early detection benefits of screening, and to encourage people 50 and older—and the health care providers who serve them—to make screening a high priority.