Attitudes towards faecal immunochemical testing in patients at increased risk of colorectal cancer:an online survey of GPs in England

von Wagner, Christian and Stoffel, Sandro and Freeman, Madeleine and Laszlo, Helga and Nicholson, Brian D and Sheringham, Jessican and Szinay, Dorothy and Hirst, Yasemin (2018) Attitudes towards faecal immunochemical testing in patients at increased risk of colorectal cancer:an online survey of GPs in England. British Journal of General Practice, 68 (676). e757-e764. ISSN 0960-1643

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BACKGROUND: There is increasing interest in using a quantitative faecal immunochemical test (FIT) to rule out colorectal cancer (CRC) in patients with high-risk symptoms in primary care. AIM: This study aimed to investigate GPs' attitudes and willingness to use a FIT over an urgent 2-week wait (2WW) referral. DESIGN AND SETTING: A cross-sectional online survey involving 1024 GPs working across England. METHOD: Logistic regression models were used to explore the likelihood of GPs using a FIT instead of a 2WW referral, and reported using odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs). RESULTS: Just over one-third of GPs (n = 365) preferred to use a FIT as a rule-out test over a 2WW referral. GPs were more willing if they were: aged 36-45 years (OR 1.59 [95% CI = 1.04 to 2.44]); 46-55 years (OR 1.99 [95% CI = 1.14 to 3.47]); thought a FIT was highly accurate (OR 1.63 [95% CI = 1.16 to 2.29]); thought patients would benefit compared with having a colonoscopy (OR 2.02 [95% CI = 1.46 to 2.79]); and were highly confident about discussing the benefits of a FIT (OR 2.14 [95% CI = 1.46 to 3.16]). GPs were less willing if they had had >10 urgent referrals in the past year (OR 0.62 [95% CI = 0.40 to 0.94]) and thought that longer consultations would be needed (OR 0.61 [95% CI = 0.44 to 0.83]). CONCLUSION: The study findings suggest that the acceptability of using a FIT as a rule-out test in primary care is currently low, with less than half of GPs who perceived the test to be accurate preferring it over colonoscopy. Any potential guideline changes recommending a FIT in patients with high-risk symptoms, instead of urgent referral to rule out CRC, are likely to require intensive supporting educational outreach to increase GP confidence in the accuracy and application of a FIT in this context.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
British Journal of General Practice
Additional Information:
© British Journal of General Practice 2018.
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Deposited On:
10 Oct 2022 09:00
Last Modified:
16 Sep 2023 02:33