National Surveys of Colorectal Cancer Screening Policies & Practices

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of death from cancer in the US, with 143,460 new cases and 51,690 deaths expected in 2012. In the late 1990s, evidence emerging from clinical studies prompted several groups to issue or revise recommendations for CRC screening. There is a consensus that average-risk adults aged 50 years and older should be screened for CRC. Despite evidence in support of screening guidelines, national surveys indicate that one half of adults aged 50 and older are not up to date with recommended screenings. NCI periodically fields national studies of physician knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding CRC screening and health plans' screening recommendations, guidelines, and policies.

NCI launched the National Survey of Colorectal Cancer Screening Practices in 1999 in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionExternal Web Site Policy and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid ServicesExternal Web Site Policy. The Survey of Health Plan Policies and Programs for Colorectal Cancer Screening was fielded between November 2005 and April 2006.

The National Survey of Colorectal Cancer Screening Practices was designed to obtain current, nationally representative data on the physician and health system factors that may influence the use of screening and diagnostic follow-up for the early detection of CRC in community practice. Specific questions that the study addressed include:

  • To what extent do primary care physicians recommend colorectal cancer screening, and with what modalities?
  • Which colorectal cancer screening procedures do primary care and specialty physicians use?
  • To what extent do primary care physicians refer patients for colorectal cancer screening, and to whom do they refer?
  • What do primary care and specialty physicians and health plan medical directors perceive as facilitators of and barriers to colorectal cancer screening?
  • To what extent have health plans established guidelines, policies, or systems to promote colorectal cancer screening?
  • Are primary care and specialty physicians aware of the new Medicare colorectal cancer screening benefit, and to what extent is the benefit being implemented?
  • Do primary care and specialty physicians and health plans have in place systems for reminding patients that they are due for colorectal cancer screening, and for tracking and reporting results?

Survey Instruments

Investigators who adopt or adapt any items from the questionnaires are asked to cite the National Cancer Institute, National Surveys of Colorectal Cancer Screening Policies and Practices as the source.

Last Updated: 16 May, 2019