Evaluating changes to home bowel cancer screening kits: an end-user perspective study

Research Snapshots of Health Systems and Behavioural Research

What is known?

Bowel cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Australia. The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) provides screening kits to Australians aged 50-74, which can detect bowel cancer at early stages when treatment is most effective. However, participation in the program is low, with people reporting difficulty using the kit or disgust in the screening process as reasons for not participating. To reduce bowel cancer in Australia, it is essential to find ways to make the screening process easier and increase participation rates.

What is new?

The results of our survey of 1,109 NBCSP invitees showed that changing the screening kit to require only one stool sample, instead of the current two samples, would significantly increase people’s intention to participate. Participants also recommended that providing barcodes to label samples, enlarging the collection tube’s opening, and highlighting the kit’s expiry date would improve the screening process.

What does this mean?

This study highlights ways that changing the bowel cancer screening kit could enhance the user’s experience and potentially increase participation rates in the program. However, implementing these changes on a national level requires careful consideration of costs and practicality. Simplifying the screening process can have a significant impact positive on screening rates, leading to early detection and reduced cancer burden in Australia. By making the kit more user-friendly, we can facilitate participation in screening, ultimately improving public health outcomes.

Contact: Larry Myers

Reference: Myers, L., Ireland, M. J., Viljoen, B., & Goodwin, B. (2023). Evaluating changes to home bowel cancer screening kits: an end-user perspective study. Cancer Causes & Control, 34(7), 583-594.