A study to see if people change behaviours that can affect their health after having a colonoscopy (CATALYST)

Cancer type:

Bowel (colorectal) cancer





This study collected information about changes in smoking, diet, drinking alcohol and physical activity in people who had a colonoscopy. They also collected information from their partners.

People who have a colonoscopy and are then diagnosed with bowel cancer, or other conditions such as diverticulitis or polyps, may choose to make changes to their lifestyle. They may stop smoking, change their diet, reduce the amount of alcohol they drink or increase the amount of physical activity they do. These are called health related behaviours.

The researchers doing this study looked at health related behaviours of people who had a colonoscopy that showed abnormal cells. They compared them with people who had a colonoscopy that showed normal bowel cells. They also looked at the health related behaviours of the partners of people in both groups.

The aim of the study was to understand more about health related behaviours in these groups of people and their partners.

Summary of results

The research team found that people didn’t change their health related behaviour very much after having a colonoscopy.

This study recruited over 500 people who were due to have a colonoscopy to investigate symptoms they were having. The colonoscopy results showed

  • 149 people (28%) had normal cells
  • 387 people (72%) had some abnormal cells

They also recruited 460 partners of those having a colonoscopy.

The research team asked everyone taking part to fill out a questionnaire before the colonoscopy, and again 10 months afterwards. It asked them about a number of health related issues.

The results of the first questionnaires showed that

  • Nearly 3 in 10 people ate less than the recommended 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day
  • 2 in 10 people drank more than the recommended units of alcohol each day
  • 5 in 10 people had a low activity level
  • About 2 in 10 people were obese
  • About 1 in 10 people smoked

When they asked the same questions 10 months later, they found that there wasn’t much difference. Fewer people with abnormal cells drank over the recommended amount of alcohol than before. But more people had a low level of activity. There was no change in the results for partners of those who’d had a colonoscopy.

The research team concluded that having a colonoscopy didn’t really change people’s diet and lifestyle habits very much. They noted that people weren’t given any advice on how to improve their diet and lifestyle, and wondered if having a colonoscopy might be a good time to do this.

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial 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

Gill Hubbard
David Morrison

Supported by

Chief Scientist Office (CSO)
University of Glasgow
University of Stirling

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 7855

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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