Impact of gender on decisions to participate in faecal immunochemical test-based colorectal cancer screening: a qualitative study

Nicholas Clarke, Pamela Gallagher, Patricia M. Kearney, Deirdre McNamara, Linda Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Faecal immunochemical tests (FITs) are increasingly being used in population-based colorectal cancer-screening programmes. Uptake of FIT is lower in men than women; however, the reasons for this are not well understood. We aimed to explore gender differences in influences on decisions to participate in FIT screening. Methods: This is a qualitative study using in-depth face-to-face interviews of four groups of screening invitees (male and female screening users and male and female screening non-users), purposively sampled from the database of a population-based FIT screening programme. Recruitment continued until saturation was reached. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis using the framework approach was employed with the theoretical domains framework guiding analysis. Results: Forty-seven screening invitees were interviewed. Six theoretical domains influenced screening uptake: ‘environmental context and resources’, ‘beliefs about capabilities’, ‘beliefs about consequences’, ‘emotions’, ‘social influences’ and ‘knowledge’. Male non-users were often fatalistic, less knowledgeable and misinformed about cancer and FIT screening compared with other groups. Female non-users expressed negative attitudes, beliefs and emotions towards FIT screening, cancer, social influences and the medical profession and were over-confident about their health. Conclusions: Negative attitudes and emotions to screening dominated non-user decision-making but differed by gender. Opportunities to improve uptake in men and women exist. Greater national discussions on the benefits of FIT screening, and development of screening materials tackling negative attitudes and beliefs while recognising male/female differences, may improve screening uptake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1456-1462
Number of pages7
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


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