Continuing cancer screening later in life: Attitudes and intentions among older adults in England

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Abstract

Background: the rise in life expectancy, together with age-related increase in the incidence of most cancers, has led to mounting interest in cancer screening in older people. In England, routine invitations stop and an 'opt-in' (individual request) process is available from ages 71 to 76 years for breast and colorectal screening respectively. Little is known about public attitudes towards age-stoppage policy. Objective: this study examined public attitudes to current stoppage policy, information preferences and intentions to request screening beyond the age of routine invitations. Sample: participants (n = 927; age 60-74 years) were recruited as part of a TNS Research International survey and took part in home-based, computer-assisted interviews. Methods: measures included: (i) attitudes towards current stoppage policy, (ii) preference for communications about screening after the end of the routine invitation period and (iii) intention to opt-in. Results: the majority of respondents (78%) did not agree with age-based stoppage policies. Most (83%) wanted a strong recommendation to opt-in after this age, although the number who thought they would follow such a recommendation was much lower (27%). A majority of participants (54%) thought information on screening at older ages should come from their general practitioner (GP). Conclusion: this survey indicates that older people in England wish to continue to be actively invited for cancer screening, although only a minority think that they would ultimately take up the offer. Primary care may play a role in negotiating a shared decision that is based on individual circumstances. © The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society. All rights reserved.

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Von Wagner, C., Macedo, A., Campbell, C., Simon, A. E., Wardle, J., Hammersley, V., … Waller, J. (2013). Continuing cancer screening later in life: Attitudes and intentions among older adults in England. Age and Ageing, 42(6), 770–775. https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/aft132

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