Objectives - To assess the acceptability of bowel cancer screening using flexible sigmoidoscopy (FS).
Setting - Adults aged 55 to 64 recruited from general practices in Welwyn Garden City and Leicester, which were the pilot and start up centres of a multicentred randomised controlled trial of FS screening (the ICRF/MRC Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Screening Trial).
Methods - Screenees (n=4422) were sent a three month follow up questionnaire that included measures of satisfaction with information given before the test, facilities at the test unit, attitudes of the staff, and explanation of the results. Measures of pain, embarrassment, feelings of being “in control” during the test, willingness to encourage others to have the test, and gladness to have participated were also included. In addition, semistructured telephone interviews were conducted with 60 screenees, stratified by screening outcome and gender.
Results - The follow up questionnaire was completed by 94% of screenees. Responses indicated a high level of satisfaction with the procedure: 99% were satisfied with the information given before the test, the facilities, the attitudes of the staff, and the explanation of their results; 91% reported only mild or no pain; 97% reported little or no embarrassment; and 99% were glad they had the test. Satisfaction ratings varied little by gender or outcome group. The quantitative results were reinforced by the qualitative data, which also revealed high acceptability.
Conclusion - In the context of a clinical trial with dedicated trial staff, FS is a well tolerated procedure. There are high levels of satisfaction with service provision and positive attitudes towards the programme.