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Gender differences in attitudes impeding colorectal cancer screening

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      Abstract

      Background

      Colorectal cancer screening (CRCS) is the only type of cancer screening where both genders reduce risks by similar proportions with identical procedures. It is an important context for examining gender differences in disease-prevention, as CRCS significantly reduces mortality via early detection and prevention. In efforts to increase screening adherence, there is increasing acknowledgment that obstructive attitudes prevent CRCS uptake. Precise identification of the gender differences in obstructive attitudes is necessary to improve uptake promotion. This study randomly sampled unscreened, screening - eligible individuals in Ontario, employing semi-structured interviews to elicit key differences in attitudinal obstructions towards colorectal cancer screening with the aim of deriving informative differences useful in planning promotions of screening uptake.

      Methods

      N = 81 participants (49 females, 32 males), 50 years and above, with no prior CRCS, were contacted via random-digit telephone dialing, and consented via phone-mail contact. Altogether, N = 4,459 calls were made to yield N = 85 participants (1.9% response rate) of which N = 4 participants did not complete interviews. All subjects were eligible for free-of-charge CRCS in Ontario, and each was classified, via standard interview by CRCS screening decision-stage. Telephone-based, semi-structured interviews (SSIs) were employed to investigate gender differences in CRCS attitudes, using questions focused on 5 attitudinal domains: 1) Screening experience at the time of interview; 2) Barriers to adherence; 3) Predictors of Adherence; 4) Pain-anxiety experiences related to CRCS; 5) Gender-specific experiences re: CRCS, addressing all three modalities accessible through Ontario’s program: a) fecal occult blood testing; b) flexible sigmoidoscopy; c) colonoscopy.

      Results

      Interview transcript analyses indicated divergent themes related to CRCS for each gender: 1) bodily intrusion, 2) perforation anxiety, and 3) embarrassment for females and; 1) avoidant procrastination with underlying fatalism, 2) unnecessary health care and 3) uncomfortable vulnerability for males. Respondents adopted similar attitudes towards fecal occult blood testing, flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy, and were comparable in decision stage across tests. Gender differences were neither closely tied to screening stage nor modality. Women had more consistent physician relationships, were more screening-knowledgeable and better able to articulate views on screening. Men reported less consistent physician relationships, were less knowledgeable and kept decision-making processes vague and emotionally distanced (i.e. at ‘arm’s length’).

      Conclusions

      Marked differences were observed in obstructive CRCS attitudes per gender. Females articulated reservations about CRCS-associated distress and males suppressed negative views while ambiguously procrastinating about the task of completing screening. Future interventions could seek to reduce CRCS-related stress (females) and address the need to overcome procrastination (males).

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      Most cited references 123

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      Constructions of masculinity and their influence on men's well-being: a theory of gender and health.

       W H Courtenay (2000)
      Men in the United States suffer more severe chronic conditions, have higher death rates for all 15 leading causes of death, and die nearly 7 yr younger than women. Health-related beliefs and behaviours are important contributors to these differences. Men in the United States are more likely than women to adopt beliefs and behaviours that increase their risks, and are less likely to engage in behaviours that are linked with health and longevity. In an attempt to explain these differences, this paper proposes a relational theory of men's health from a social constructionist and feminist perspective. It suggests that health-related beliefs and behaviours, like other social practices that women and men engage in, are a means for demonstrating femininities and masculinities. In examining constructions of masculinity and health within a relational context, this theory proposes that health behaviours are used in daily interactions in the social structuring of gender and power. It further proposes that the social practices that undermine men's health are often signifiers of masculinity and instruments that men use in the negotiation of social power and status. This paper explores how factors such as ethnicity, economic status, educational level, sexual orientation and social context influence the kind of masculinity that men construct and contribute to differential health risks among men in the United States. It also examines how masculinity and health are constructed in relation to femininities and to institutional structures, such as the health care system. Finally, it explores how social and institutional structures help to sustain and reproduce men's health risks and the social construction of men as the stronger sex.
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        Reducing mortality from colorectal cancer by screening for fecal occult blood. Minnesota Colon Cancer Control Study.

         J Mandel,  J H Bond,  T Church (1993)
        Although tests for occult blood in the feces are widely used to screen for colorectal cancers, there is no conclusive evidence that they reduce mortality from this cause. We evaluated a fecal occult-blood test in a randomized trial and documented its effectiveness. We randomly assigned 46,551 participants 50 to 80 years of age to screening for colorectal cancer once a year, to screening every two years, or to a control group. Participants who were screened submitted six guaiac-impregnated paper slides with two smears from each of three consecutive stools. About 83 percent of the slides were rehydrated. Participants who tested positive underwent a diagnostic evaluation that included colonoscopy. Vital status was ascertained for all study participants during 13 years of follow-up. A committee determined causes of death. A single pathologist determined the stage of each tissue specimen. Differences in mortality from colorectal cancer, the primary study end point, were monitored with the sequential log-rank statistic. The 13-year cumulative mortality per 1000 from colorectal cancer was 5.88 in the annually screened group (95 percent confidence interval, 4.61 to 7.15), 8.33 in the biennially screened group (95 percent confidence interval, 6.82 to 9.84), and 8.83 in the control group (95 percent confidence interval, 7.26 to 10.40). The rate in the annually screened group, but not in the biennially screened group, was significantly lower than that in the control group. Reduced mortality in the annually screened group was accompanied by improved survival in those with colorectal cancer and a shift to detection at an earlier stage of cancer. Annual fecal occult-blood testing with rehydration of the samples decreased the 13-year cumulative mortality from colorectal cancer by 33 percent.
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          Once-only flexible sigmoidoscopy screening in prevention of colorectal cancer: a multicentre randomised controlled trial.

          Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide and has a high mortality rate. We tested the hypothesis that only one flexible sigmoidoscopy screening between 55 and 64 years of age can substantially reduce colorectal cancer incidence and mortality. This randomised controlled trial was undertaken in 14 UK centres. 170 432 eligible men and women, who had indicated on a previous questionnaire that they would accept an invitation for screening, were randomly allocated to the intervention group (offered flexible sigmoidoscopy screening) or the control group (not contacted). Randomisation by sequential number generation was done centrally in blocks of 12, with stratification by trial centre, general practice, and household type. The primary outcomes were the incidence of colorectal cancer, including prevalent cases detected at screening, and mortality from colorectal cancer. Analyses were intention to treat and per protocol. The trial is registered, number ISRCTN28352761. 113 195 people were assigned to the control group and 57 237 to the intervention group, of whom 112 939 and 57 099, respectively, were included in the final analyses. 40 674 (71%) people underwent flexible sigmoidoscopy. During screening and median follow-up of 11.2 years (IQR 10.7-11.9), 2524 participants were diagnosed with colorectal cancer (1818 in control group vs 706 in intervention group) and 20 543 died (13 768 vs 6775; 727 certified from colorectal cancer [538 vs 189]). In intention-to-treat analyses, colorectal cancer incidence in the intervention group was reduced by 23% (hazard ratio 0.77, 95% CI 0.70-0.84) and mortality by 31% (0.69, 0.59-0.82). In per-protocol analyses, adjusting for self-selection bias in the intervention group, incidence of colorectal cancer in people attending screening was reduced by 33% (0.67, 0.60-0.76) and mortality by 43% (0.57, 0.45-0.72). Incidence of distal colorectal cancer (rectum and sigmoid colon) was reduced by 50% (0.50, 0.42-0.59; secondary outcome). The numbers needed to be screened to prevent one colorectal cancer diagnosis or death, by the end of the study period, were 191 (95% CI 145-277) and 489 (343-852), respectively. Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a safe and practical test and, when offered only once between ages 55 and 64 years, confers a substantial and longlasting benefit. Medical Research Council, National Health Service R&D, Cancer Research UK, KeyMed. Copyright 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]School of Kinesiology and Health Science, York University, 136 Chemistry Building, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON M3J 1P3, Canada
            [2 ]Research, Prevention and Cancer Control, Cancer Care Ontario, 505 University Avenue, Toronto, ON M5G 2L7, Canada
            [3 ]Division of Population Science, Department of Medical Oncology, Thomas Jefferson University, 1020 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA
            [4 ]Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON M4N 3M5, Canada
            [5 ]Institute for Health Policy Management and Evaluation, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, 155 College Street, Toronto, ON M5T 3M7, Canada
            [6 ]Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON M4N 3M5, Canada
            [7 ]Prevention and Cancer Control, 620 University Avenue, Toronto, ON M5G 2L7, Canada
            [8 ]Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, 1 Kings College Circle, Toronto, ON M5S 1A8, Canada
            Contributors
            Journal
            BMC Public Health
            BMC Public Health
            BMC Public Health
            BioMed Central
            1471-2458
            2013
            24 May 2013
            : 13
            : 500
            23706029 3672022 1471-2458-13-500 10.1186/1471-2458-13-500
            Copyright ©2013 Ritvo et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

            Categories
            Research Article

            Public health

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