Objective: To examine the Stage of Change distribution for bowel cancer screening in a regional Australian community and the factors associated with varying positions on the continuum of change.
Design: Survey of a convenience sample. Setting: Community sample. Participants: A total of 59 (31 male, mean age=59) service club members from a South Australian regional community.
Main outcome measure: Self-reported Stage of Change for bowel cancer screening behaviour.
Results: Attributing greater embarrassment and discomfort to bowel cancer screening was associated with earlier positions on the Stages of Change. Perceiving that bowel cancer screening might have positive value for personal health was associated with more advanced positions on the continuum of change. Those who perceived breast and prostate screening procedures to be embarrassing or to cause discomfort were significantly less likely to be participating in bowel cancer screening. No significant relationships were found between bowel cancer screening Stage of Change and worry about vulnerability; personal, family or wider social network case reports of bowel cancer; and the population-level value attributed to the cancer screening procedures.
Conclusion: Bowel cancer screening participation rates are currently lower than those associated with breast and prostate screening. Reducing perceptions of embarrassment and discomfort, increasing awareness of potential health benefits and maximising participation in other screening procedures might increase participation in bowel cancer screening.