Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 376–380

Bringing an Organizational Perspective to the Optimal Number of Colorectal Cancer Screening Options Debate

  • Melissa R. Partin
  • Adam A. Powell
  • Diana J. Burgess
  • Timothy J. Wilt


Improving colorectal cancer (CRC) screening rates represents a challenge for primary care providers. Some have argued that offering a choice of CRC screening modes to patients will improve the currently low adherence rates. Others have raised concerns that offering numerous CRC screening options in practice could overwhelm patients and thus dampen enthusiasm for screening. In this article we assemble evidence to critically evaluate the relative merit of these opposing views. We find little evidence to support the hypothesis that the number of options offered will affect adherence (either positively or negatively), or that expanding the modalities offered beyond FOBT and colonoscopy will improve patient satisfaction. Therefore, we assert future decisions about the number of CRC screening modes to offer would more productively be focused on considerations such as what benefit the health-care organization would derive from offering additional modes, and how this change would affect other critical components of a successful screening program such as timely diagnosis. In light of these organizational level considerations, we agree with the assertion made by others that a screening program limited to FOBT and colonoscopy is likely to be ideal in most settings.


colorectal neoplasms mass screening choice behavior decision making organizational decision making 


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa R. Partin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Adam A. Powell
    • 1
    • 2
  • Diana J. Burgess
    • 1
    • 2
  • Timothy J. Wilt
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes ResearchMinneapolis VA Medical CenterMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Department of MedicineUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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