Patient factors associated with non-attendance at colonoscopy after a positive screening faecal occult blood test

25 Sep 2017

BACKGROUND: Screening participants with abnormal faecal occult blood test results who do not attend further testing are at high risk of colorectal cancer, yet little is known about their reasons for non-attendance. METHODS: We conducted a medical record review of 170 patients from two English Bowel Cancer Screening Programme centres who had abnormal guaiac faecal occult blood test screening tests between November 2011 and April 2013 but did not undergo colonoscopy. Using information from patient records, we coded and categorized reasons for non-attendance. RESULTS: Of the 170 patients, 82 were eligible for review, of whom 66 had at least one recorded reason for lack of colonoscopy follow-up. Reasons fell into seven main categories: (i) other commitments, (ii) unwillingness to have the test, (iii) a feeling that the faecal occult blood test result was a false positive, (iv) another health issue taking priority, (v) failing to complete bowel preparation, (vi) practical barriers (e.g. lack of transport), and (vii) having had or planning colonoscopy elsewhere. The most common single reasons were unwillingness to have a colonoscopy and being away. CONCLUSIONS: We identify a range of apparent reasons for colonoscopy non-attendance after a positive faecal occult blood test screening. Education regarding the interpretation of guaiac faecal occult blood test findings, offer of alternative confirmatory test options, and flexibility in the timing or location of subsequent testing might decrease non-attendance of diagnostic testing following positive faecal occult blood test.