BACKGROUND: Screening programs for colorectal cancer (CRC) exist in many countries, and with varying participation rates. The present study aimed at identifying socio-demographic factors for accepting a cost-free screening offer for CRC in Denmark, and to study if more people would accept the screening offer if the present fecal test was replaced by a blood test.
METHODS: We used a cross-sectional survey design based on a representative group of 6807 Danish citizens aged 50-80 years returning a fully answered web-based questionnaire with socio-demographic data added from national registries. Data were analyzed in STATA and based on bivariate analyses followed by regression models.
RESULTS: Danes in general have a high level of lifetime participation (+ 80%) in the national CRC screening program. The results of the stepwise logistic regression model to predict CRC screening participation demonstrated that female gender, higher age, higher income, and moderate alcohol intake were positively associated with screening participation, whereas a negative association was observed for higher educational attainment, obesity, being a smoker, and higher willingness to take health risks. Of the 1026 respondents not accepting the screening offer, 61% were willing to reconsider their initial negative response if the fecal sampling procedure were replaced by blood sampling.
CONCLUSION: The CRC screening program intends to include the entire population within a certain at-risk age group. However, individual factors (e.g. sex, age obesity, smoking, risk aversity) appear to significantly affect willingness to participate in the screening program. From a preventive perspective, our findings indicate the need for a more targeted approach trying to reach these groups.