Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a major cause of death in the United Kingdom. Regular screening could significantly reduce CRC-related morbidity and mortality. However, screening programmes in the United Kingdom have to date seen uptake rates of less than 60%. Attitudes towards screening are the primary factors determining patient uptake.
A questionnaire was sent to people aged 50–69 years who were registered with general practices in the West Midlands. A total of 11 355 people (53%) completed the questionnaire. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to identify those factors (gender, age, ethnicity, deprivation, number of symptoms, and their duration) that most strongly contributed to negative/positive attitudes in the primary care population.
Fourteen percent of respondents had a negative attitude towards screening. Men, older people, and those with Indian ethnic backgrounds were more likely to have negative attitudes toward screening, whereas people with Black-Caribbean ethnic background, people with multiple symptoms and those reporting abdominal pain, bleeding, and tiredness were more likely to have a positive attitude.
Culturally relevant screening strategies should aim to increase knowledge of the symptoms and signs related to bowel cancer among South Asian ethnic groups in the United Kingdom. It is also important to find ways to increase the acceptability of screening among asymptomatic patients.