Primary care colorectal cancer screening recommendation patterns: Associated factors and screening outcomes

Adrianne C. Feldstein, Nancy Perrin, Elizabeth G. Liles, David H. Smith, Ana G. Rosales, Jennifer L. Schneider, Jennifer E. Lafata, Ronald E. Myers, David M. Mosen, Russell E. Glasgow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background. The relationship of a primary care provider's (PCP's) colorectal cancer (CRC) screening strategies to completion of screening is poorly understood. Objective. To describe PCP test recommendation patterns and associated factors and their relationship to patient test completion. Design. This cross-sectional study used a PCP survey, in-depth PCP interviews, and electronic medical records. Setting. Kaiser Permanente Northwest health maintenance organization. Participants. Participants included 132 PCPs and 49,259 eligible patients aged 51 to 75. Measurements. The authors grouped PCPs by patterns of CRC screening recommendations based on reported frequency of recommending fecal occult blood testing (FOBT), flexible sigmoidoscopy (FS), and colonoscopy. They then compared PCP demographics, reported CRC screening test influences, concerns, decision-making and counseling processes, and actual rates of patient CRC screening completion by PCP group. Results. The authors identified 4 CRC screening recommendation groups: a "balanced" group (n = 54; 40.9%) that recommended the tests nearly equally, an FOBT group (n = 31; 23.5%) that largely recommended FOBT, an FOBT + FS group (n = 25; 18.9%), and a colonoscopy + FOBT group (n = 22; 16.7%) that recommended these tests nearly equally. Internal medicine (v. family medicine) PCPs were more common in groups more frequently recommending endoscopy. The FOBT and FOBT + FS groups were most influenced by clinical guidelines. Groups recommending more endoscopy were most concerned that FOBT generates a relatively high number of false positives and FOBT can miss cancers. The FOBT and FOBT + FS groups were more likely to recommend a specific screening strategy compared to the colonoscopy + FOBT and balanced groups, which were more likely to let the patient decide. CRC screening rates were 63.9% balanced, 62.9% FOBT, 61.7% FOBT + FS, and 62.2% colonoscopy + FOBT; rates did not differ significantly by group. Limitations. Small numbers within PCP groups. Conclusions. Specialty, the influence of guidelines, test concerns, and the "jointness" of the test selection decision distinguished CRC screening recommendation patterns. All patterns were associated with similar overall screening rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-208
Number of pages11
JournalMedical Decision Making
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • colorectal cancer screening
  • primary care recommendations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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