Barriers to utilization of three colorectal cancer screening options – Data from a national survey

Xuan Zhu, Philip D. Parks, Emily Weiser, Debra J. Jacobson, Paul J. Limburg, Lila J. Finney Rutten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colorectal cancer (CRC) screening continues to be underutilized in the United States. A better understanding of existing barriers is critical for improving uptake of, and adherence to, CRC screening. Using data from a population-based panel survey, we examined barriers to utilization of three commonly used screening options (FIT/gFOBT, mt-sDNA, and screening colonoscopy) and assessed differences by socio-demographic characteristics, healthcare access, and health status. Data were obtained from a questionnaire developed by the authors and implemented through a U.S. national panel survey conducted in November 2019. Among 5,097 invited panelists, 1,595 completed the survey (31.3%). Analyses were focused on individuals ages 50–75 at average risk for CRC. Results showed that among respondents who reported no prior CRC screening with FIT/gFOBT, mt-sDNA, or colonoscopy, the top barriers were lack of knowledge (FIT/gFOBT: 42.1%, mt-sDNA: 44.9%, colonoscopy: 34.7%), lack of provider recommendation (FIT/gFOBT: 32.1%, mt-sDNA: 27.3%, colonoscopy: 18.6%), and suboptimal access (FIT/gFOBT: 20.8%, mt-sDNA: 17.8%, colonoscopy: 26%). Among participants who had used one or two of the screening options, the top barriers to FIT/gFOBT and mt-sDNA were lack of provider recommendation (31.6% & 37.5%) and lack of knowledge (24.6% & 25.6%), while for colonoscopy top barriers were psychosocial barriers (31%) and lack of provider recommendation (22.7%). Differences by sex, race/ethnicity, income level, and health status were observed. Our research identified primary barriers to the utilization of three endorsed CRC screening options and differences by patient characteristics, highlighting the importance of improving CRC screening education and considering patient preferences in screening recommendations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101508
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Barriers to cancer screening utilization
  • Colorectal cancer screening
  • Screening colonoscopy
  • mt-sDNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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