Poster Presentation COSA-IPOS Joint Scientific Meeting 2012

Why don’t people get screened for cancer? Preliminary results from an online survey reaching under and never screened populations (#435)

Brooke Filsinger 1 , Dionne Gesink 2 , Alanna Mihic 2 , Nancy Kreiger 1
  1. Cancer Care Ontario, Toronto, ON, Canada
  2. University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

Aims: Participation rates for breast, cervical, and colon cancer screening in Ontario are below targeted levels. Our aim was to develop targeted programs and interventions at the community and provincial level by engaging populations that do not typically participate in cancer screening and identifying the barriers, facilitators, and stage of behaviour change associated with screening behaviours.

Methods: Data is being collected from a volunteer sample of the Ontario population (women over 18 years of age, men over 50 years) using a cross-sectional study design. Participants complete a short, self-administered online survey exploring cancer screening habits. Social media has been used to promote the survey through partnerships with community and government organizations (the YMCA, Ontario Public Libraries, etc.), in addition to traditional methods.

Results: The survey began in February 2012. Of the first 1500 individuals to complete the on-going survey, 83.7% are female (n=1256, median 49 years) and 16.3% are male (n=244, median 61 years). The sample is 88.9% Caucasian. Preliminary results indicate the need for different or easier screening tests (29.5% of respondents). Doctors are not suggesting cancer screening (17.9%) and individuals cannot schedule time to take the tests (15.2%). In addition, 15.9% would start screening with the appearance of symptoms. There is no statistical difference in the screening behaviours of males and females. However, females were more confident than males that they could actually get screened for colon cancer (p<0.05).

Conclusions: The online nature of the survey allows instant results and tailoring of participation strategies. This information has been used to form new partnerships and interest in cancer screening in minority groups and underrepresented areas. Based on the preliminary results, intervention strategies that address the nature of the screening tests and confidence levels in ability to get screened have been initiated.