Bringing an organizational perspective to the optimal number of colorectal cancer screening options debate

Melissa R. Partin, Adam A. Powell, Diana J. Burgess, Timothy J. Wilt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Improving colorectal cancer (CRC) screening rates represents a challenge for primary care providers. Some have argued that offering a choice of CRC screening modes to patients will improve the currently low adherence rates. Others have raised concerns that offering numerous CRC screening options in practice could overwhelm patients and thus dampen enthusiasm for screening. In this article we assemble evidence to critically evaluate the relative merit of these opposing views. We find little evidence to support the hypothesis that the number of options offered will affect adherence (either positively or negatively), or that expanding the modalities offered beyond FOBT and colonoscopy will improve patient satisfaction. Therefore, we assert future decisions about the number of CRC screening modes to offer would more productively be focused on considerations such as what benefit the health-care organization would derive from offering additional modes, and how this change would affect other critical components of a successful screening program such as timely diagnosis. In light of these organizational level considerations, we agree with the assertion made by others that a screening program limited to FOBT and colonoscopy is likely to be ideal in most settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)376-380
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements: This research was supported by two Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development grants: IIR 08– 334 awarded to Dr. Partin and the VA HSR&D Career Development Award CDA 08–024 granted to Dr. Powell. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States government.


  • Choice behavior
  • Colorectal neoplasms
  • Decision making
  • Mass screening
  • Organizational decision making


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