Colorectal cancer, colonoscopy, health disparities


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Epidemiology | Public Health Education and Promotion


Background: Colonoscopy is an effective procedure for identifying precancerous polyps and cancerous lesions, but it is unlike other cancer screening tools in that it requires sedation and thus assistance from at least one other individual. The intent of this paper was to identify logistical problems in completing the colonoscopy and to examine their relationships with sociodemographic characteristics.

Methods: All eligible patients (n = 2500) from two academic-affiliated colonoscopy centers (one free standing, one hospital-based) were invited to participate in an onsite, pre-colonoscopy survey; patients agreeing to participate (n = 1841, RR = 73.6%) received a $5.00 gift card. Multiple correspondence analysis (MCA) was used to identify the underlying dimensional structure of the problems. Bivariate statistics were performed to compare demographic variables and health literacy levels among patients reporting problems. Multivariate logistic regression with a backwards conditional solution was used to determine the demographic variables independently associated with problems.

Results: Multiple correspondence analyses indicated two dimensions of problems (social and practical). Using logistic regression, social problems (e.g., finding someone to accompany the patient) were associated with not living in the same home as the driver, not working due to disability, and younger age. Practical problems (e.g., making an appointment) were associated with “other” minority race, poorer health, lower health literacy, and younger age.

Conclusion: Patients experience different problems completing the colonoscopy based on socio-demographics. Particularly at risk are patients who find it difficult to navigate the system, are of younger age, or who may have smaller social networks.