Communication about colorectal cancer screening in Britain: public preferences for an expert recommendation

J. Waller, A. Macedo, C. von Wagner, A. E. Simon, C. Jones, V. Hammersley, D. Weller, J. Wardle, C. Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Informed decision-making approaches to cancer screening emphasise the importance of decisions being determined by individuals' own values and preferences. However, advice from a trusted source may also contribute to autonomous decision-making. This study examined preferences regarding a recommendation from the NHS and information provision in the context of colorectal cancer (CRC) screening.

METHODS: In face-to-face interviews, a population-based sample of adults across Britain (n = 1964; age 50-80 years) indicated their preference between: (1) a strong recommendation to participate in CRC screening, (2) a recommendation alongside advice to make an individual decision, and (3) no recommendation but advice to make an individual decision. Other measures included trust in the NHS and preferences for information on benefits and risks.

RESULTS: Most respondents (84%) preferred a recommendation (47% strong recommendation, 37% recommendation plus individual decision-making advice), but the majority also wanted full information on risks (77%) and benefits (78%). Men were more in favour of a recommendation than women (86% vs 81%). Trust in the NHS was high overall, but the minority who expressed low trust were less likely to want a recommendation.

CONCLUSION: Most British adults want full information on risks and benefits of screening but they also want a recommendation from an authoritative source. An 'expert' view may be an important part of autonomous health decision-making. British Journal of Cancer (2012) 107, 1938-1943. doi:10.1038/bjc.2012.512 Published online 22 November 2012 (C) 2012 Cancer Research UK

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1938-1943
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2012


  • cancer screening
  • FOBT
  • benefits and risks
  • recommendation
  • Trust


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