Objectives To assess the effect of gender, age and deprivation on key performance indicators in a colorectal cancer screening programme.
Setting Between March 2000 and May 2006 a demonstration pilot of biennial guaiac faecal occult blood test (gFOBT) colorectal screening was carried out in North-East Scotland for all individuals aged 50-69 years.
Methods The relevant populations were subdivided, by gender, into four age groups and into five deprivation categories according to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD), and key performance indicators analysed within these groups.
Results In all rounds, uptake of the gFOBT increased with age (P < 0.001), decreased with increasing deprivation in both genders (P < 0.001), and was consistently higher in women than in men in all age and all SIMD groups. In addition, increasing deprivation was negatively associated with uptake of colonoscopy in men with a positive gFOBT (P < 0.001) although this effect was not observed in women. Positivity rates increased with age (P < 0.001) and increasing deprivation (P < 0.001) in both genders in all rounds, although they were higher in men than in women for all age and SIMD categories. Cancer detection rates increased with age (P < 0.001), were higher in men than in women in all age and SIMD categories, but were not consistently related to deprivation. In both genders, the positive predictive value (PPV) for cancer increased with age (P < 0.001) and decreased with increasing deprivation (P < 0.001) in all rounds and was consistently higher in men than in women in all age and SIMD categories.
Conclusions In this population-based colorectal screening programme gender, age, and deprivation had marked effects on key performance indicators, and this has implications both for the evaluation of screening programmes and for strategies designed to reduce inequalities.