The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) is the second most commonly used colorectal cancer (CRC) screening modality in the United States; yet, follow-up of abnormal FIT results with diagnostic colonoscopy is underutilized. Our objective was to determine patient-reported barriers to diagnostic colonoscopy following abnormal FIT in an academic healthcare setting.
We included patients age 50–75 with an abnormal FIT result between 1/1/2015 and 10/31/2017 and no documented follow-up diagnostic colonoscopy. We abstracted demographic data from the electronic health record (EHR). Study personnel conducted telephone surveys with patients to confirm colonoscopy completion and elicit data on notification of FIT results and barriers to colonoscopy. We also provided brief verbal education about diagnostic colonoscopy. We calculated frequencies of demographic data and survey responses and compared survey responses by interest in colonoscopy after education.
We surveyed 67 patients. Fifty-one were aware of the abnormal FIT result, and a majority learned of the abnormal FIT result by direct communication with providers (19, 37.3%) or EHR messaging (11, 21.6%). Overall, fifty-three patients (79.1%) confirmed lack of colonoscopy, citing provider-related (19, 35.8%), patient-related (16, 30.2%), system-related (1, 1.9%), or multifactorial (17, 32.1%) reasons. Lack of knowledge of FIT result (14, 26.4%) was most common. After brief education, 20 (37.7%) patients requested colonoscopy.
Patients with an abnormal FIT reported various multi-level barriers to diagnostic colonoscopy after abnormal FIT, including knowledge of FIT results. When provided with brief education, participants expressed interest in diagnostic colonoscopy. Future efforts will evaluate interventions to improve colonoscopy follow-up.