Reasons for lack of follow-up colonoscopy among persons with a positive fecal occult blood test result: A qualitative study

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Objectives: Follow-up colonoscopy rates among persons with positive fecal occult blood test results (FOBT + ) remain suboptimal in many jurisdictions. In Ontario, Canada, primary care providers (PCPs) are responsible for arranging follow-up colonoscopies. The objectives were to understand the reasons for a lack of follow-up colonoscopy and any action plans to address follow-up. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 30 FOBT+ persons and 30 PCPs in Ontario. Eligible FOBT+ persons were identified through administrative databases and included those aged 50-74, with a 6-12 month old FOBT+, no follow-up colonoscopy, and no prior colorectal cancer diagnosis or colectomy. Eligible PCPs had ≥1 rostered FOBT+ person without follow-up colonoscopy. Transcripts were analyzed inductively using Nvivo 11 (QSR International Pty Ltd., 2015). Results: Reasons for lack of follow-up colonoscopy were: Person and/or provider believed the FOBT + was a false positive; person was afraid of colonoscopy; person had other health issues; and breakdown in communication of FOBT+ results or colonoscopy appointments. PCPs who initially recommended follow-up colonoscopy did not change the minds of the persons who dismissed the FOBT+ as a false positive and/or who were afraid of the procedure. These FOBT+ persons negotiated an alternative follow-up action plan including repeating the FOBT or not following-up. Conclusions: PCPs may not adequately counsel FOBT+ persons who believe the FOBT+ is a false positive and/or fear colonoscopy. PCPs may lack fail-safe systems to communicate FOBT+ results and colonoscopy appointments. Using navigators may help address these barriers and increase follow-up rates.




Llovet, D., Serenity, M., Conn, L. G., Bravo, C. A., McCurdy, B. R., Dubé, C., … Tinmouth, J. (2018). Reasons for lack of follow-up colonoscopy among persons with a positive fecal occult blood test result: A qualitative study. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 113(12), 1872–1880.

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