Preferences for colorectal cancer screening techniques and intention to attend: a multi-criteria decision analysis

J. Marjan Hummel, Lotte Maria Gertruda Steuten, Catharina Gerarda Maria Groothuis-Oudshoorn, Nick Mulder, Maarten Joost IJzerman

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Background Despite the expected health benefits of colorectal cancer screening programs, participation rates remain low in countries that have implemented such a screening program. The perceived benefits and risks of the colorectal cancer screening technique are likely to influence the decision to attend the screening program. Besides the diagnostic accuracy and the risks of the screening technique, which can affect the health of the participants, additional factors, such as the burden of the test, may impact the individuals’ decisions to participate. To maximise the participation rate of a screening program for a new colorectal cancer program in the Netherlands, it is important to know the preferences of the screening population for alternative screening techniques. Objective The aim of this study was to explore the impact of preferences for particular attributes of the screening tests on the intention to attend a colorectal cancer screening program. Methods We used a web-based questionnaire to elicit the preferences of the target population for a selection of colon-screening techniques. The target population consisted of Dutch men and women aged 55–75 years. The analytic hierarchy process (AHP), a technique for multi-criteria analysis, was used to estimate the colorectal cancer screening preferences. Respondents weighted the relevance of five criteria, i.e. the attributes of the screening techniques: sensitivity, specificity, safety, inconvenience, and frequency of the test. With regard to these criteria, preferences were estimated between four alternative screening techniques, namely, immunochemical fecal occult blood test (iFOBT), colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, and computerized tomographic (CT) colonography. A five-point ordinal scale was used to estimate the respondents’ intention to attend the screening. We conducted a correlation analysis on the preferences for the screening techniques and the intention to attend. Results We included 167 respondents who were consistent in their judgments of the relevance of the criteria and their preferences for the screening techniques. The most preferred screening method for the national screening program was CT colonography. Sensitivity (weight = 0.26) and safety (weight = 0.26) were the strongest determinants of the overall preferences for the screening techniques. However, the screening test with the highest intention to attend was iFOBT. Inconvenience (correlation [r] = 0.69), safety (r = 0.58), and the frequency of the test (r = 0.58) were most strongly related to intention to attend. Conclusions The multi-criteria decision analysis revealed the attributes of the screening techniques that are most important so as to increase intention to participate in a screening program. Even though the respondents may recognize the high importance of diagnostic effectiveness in the long term, their short-term decision to attend the screening tests may be less driven by this consideration. Our analysis suggests that inconvenience, safety, and frequency of the test are the strongest technique-related determinants of the respondents’ intention to participate in colorectal screening programs
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-507
JournalApplied health economics and health policy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2013


  • METIS-297396
  • IR-87082


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