Article Abstract

Uncovering the barriers to undergoing screening among first degree relatives of colorectal cancer patients: a review of qualitative literature

Authors: Ker-Kan Tan, Violeta Lopez, Mee-Lian Wong, Gerald Choon-Huat Koh


First degree relatives (FDRs) of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients are at higher risks of developing the disease, but screening rates amongst this group remains dismal. We undertook a systematic review of qualitative studies to identify the barriers surrounding CRC screening among FDRs from both the FDRs’ and the healthcare professionals’ perspectives. A comprehensive search of major bibliographic databases from January 2000 till February 2017 was performed to answer the above research questions. Pre-determined inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied. Thematic analysis was used to derive the commonalities across the studies. COREQ checklist was used to evaluate the quality of the included studies. Eight qualitative studies were included. Some of the barriers reported by FDRs included the fear of diagnosis of cancer and socio-cultural barriers. The most important barrier was the FDRs’ negative perceptions towards screening test such as discomfort, embarrassment, cost of procedure and accessibility to healthcare resources. Likewise, the lack of awareness amongst FDRs that they are at increased risk of developing CRC was also found to be a barrier. On the other hand, healthcare providers are keen for patients themselves to be advocates for CRC screening of their family members as constraints posed by their daily workload impede their time to advocate screening. Lack of knowledge of the physicians on CRC screening guidelines is another notable barrier. A lack of awareness of being at higher risk of developing CRC coupled with negative attitude towards colonoscopy are the main barriers faced by the FDRs of CRC patients. Healthcare providers are more comfortable with patients being the advocates of screening among their family members.