Health Literacy, Health Communications, Health Education
Factors That Determine Perceived Concern & Knowledge About Colorectal Cancer
(School of Public Health (UMD) Behavioral and Community Health Undergraduate Student)
Objectives Researchers have explored fear and other barriers that prevent screening for cancer; most importantly studying factors that might contribute to health disparities. Colorectal cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer in the world but it can be prevented or caught at an early stage through colonoscopy. This study analyzed possible barriers to receiving a colonoscopy and follow up care relating to patient factors. Approach Participants were recruited from two large university-based urban clinics in Maryland (n=114) on the morning of their colonoscopy. They were questioned about their demographics, perceived health literacy and perceptions of the upcoming colonoscopy surgery. Findings Employment (p< 0.001), perception of own health (p< 0.001), yearly household income (p< 0.005), marital status (p< 0.05), educational level (p< 0.05), and gender (p< 0.05) were significantly associated with concern about having colorectal cancer before the colonoscopy. Perceived health literacy (p< 0.0001), educational level (p< 0.0001), yearly household income (p< 0.005), perception of own health (p< 0.005), gender (p< 0.05), and employment (p< 0.05) were significantly associated with how informed patients perceived themselves to be about colorectal cancer before the colonoscopy. Conclusions Males, those unemployed, and those with lower yearly household incomes and educational levels reported being more concerned and less informed about colorectal cancer than females, those employed, and those with higher yearly household incomes and educational levels. Those who had a high health literacy level felt over two times more informed about colorectal cancer than those with medium or low levels. Public Health Significance Findings suggest the need for tailored information that addresses the logistics of colon cancer screenings, risk factors for colon cancer and the consequences of colon cancer for certain patient demographics. Furthermore, interventions to educate those who are not as informed, such as those with low income or low health literacy, not employed, and lower education level are needed to ensure everyone has equal access to health screening.