A study to find out what influences people to take part in bowel scope screening (Study 2)

Cancer type:

Bowel (colorectal) cancer





This study was done to find out what makes people more likely to take part in the bowel cancer screening programme. It was for people who had not been invited for screening yet. The study was supported by Cancer Research UK.

The research team also looked at why some people decided not to have screening once they had been invited to go. This is called Study 1 and we have more information about it on the link below.

A study to identify the reasons why people don't take part in bowel scope screening (Study 1)

More about this trial

When this study was done, some people in England were invited to take part in the bowel scope screening programme at age 55.

This test uses a thin flexible tube with a camera on the end to look inside the large bowel. It is called a flexible sigmoidoscopy or flexi scope (sometimes shortened to flexisig). 

It looks for small growths in the bowel called polyps. They are not cancerous, but can develop into bowel cancer if left to grow. The test can also find cancer which is likely to be at an early stage.

This study was for people who hadn’t been invited for bowel scope screening yet.

The aim of the study was to find out whether people thought they’d go for screening once they were invited, and why. 

Summary of results

The research team found some common factors for people who thought they would attend for bowel scope screening in the future.
This study was open for people to join between 2015 and 2016. 
About this study
The research team wrote to 4,330 people from 83 different GP practices, to ask them to fill out a questionnaire about bowel screening. They hadn’t been invited for routine screening yet. The researchers had 1,578 questionnaires back.
The questionnaire asked people about a number of things, including:
  • their gender, marital status and ethnic group
  • whether they were employed
  • whether they owned a house or car
  • what their general health was like
  • how much they knew about bowel cancer
  • what they thought about screening
  • whether they knew anyone who’d had bowel cancer
  • whether they thought they would have screening once they were invited to go
Of the 1,578 questionnaires returned, 1,555 people answered the question about attending screening in the future:
  • 824 (53%) said definitely yes
  • 591 (38%) said probably yes
  • 109 (7%) said probably no
  • 31 (2%) said definitely no
The research team looked at the other answers in the questionnaires and found people were more likely to say they’d go for screening if they:
  • thought it would be beneficial 
  • were interested in other ways to help prevent cancer
  • knew someone else who’d had bowel cancer
And they were less likely to say they’d go for screening if they:
  • thought the test would be painful or embarrassing
  • had a healthy lifestyle (and so didn’t think they were at risk of bowel cancer)
The study team then looked at the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening system to find out who did go for screening (if the person who completed the questionnaire gave them permission to).
They found that 8 out of 10 people (80%) who said they’d go for screening did go. But 2 out of 10 (20%) didn’t go.
The research team found several factors which meant people were more likely to go for screening:
  • being interested in cancer prevention
  • knowing someone who’d had cancer
  • thinking screening would be beneficial
They also found several factors which meant people were less likely to go for screening:
  • having type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • thinking the test may be painful or embarrassing 
  • being in a lower socio-economic group
Looking at these results, the study team decided it could be possible to change how people think about some aspects of going for screening. 
These include things like helping people understand more about the benefits of screening. Or reassuring them that health care professionals do all they can to make sure it’s not painful or embarrassing.
But there are also other factors that are more difficult to change, such as people’s socio-economic group or general health.
The study team concluded that health care professionals should give people more information and reassurance about bowel scope screening. They hope this would mean more people decide to go when they are invited.
Where this information comes from
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us is being reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) but may not have been published in a medical journal yet.  The figures we quote above were provided by the research team. We have not analysed the data ourselves. 

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Dr Christian von Wagner

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
University College London (UCL)

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Alan took part in a clinical trial for bowel cancer patients

A picture of ALan

“I think it’s essential that people keep signing up to these type of trials to push research forward.”

Last reviewed:

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