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Patient-Reported Barriers to Completing a Diagnostic Colonoscopy Following Abnormal Fecal Immunochemical Test Among Uninsured Patients.



For colorectal cancer (CRC) screening to improve survival, patients with an abnormal fecal immunochemical test (FIT) must follow-up with a diagnostic colonoscopy. Adherence to follow-up is low and patient-level barriers for suboptimal adherence have yet to be explored.


To characterize barriers for non-completion of diagnostic colonoscopy after an abnormal FIT reported by under- and uninsured patients receiving care in a safety-net health system.


A longitudinal, cohort study of CRC screening outreach to 8565 patients using mailed FIT kits. Patients with abnormal FIT results received telephonic navigation to arrange for a no-cost diagnostic colonoscopy.


Adults aged 50-64 years receiving care at a North Texas safety-net health system.


Descriptive analyses characterized the patient sample and reasons for lack of follow-up after abnormal FIT over the 3-year outreach program. Thematic qualitative analyses characterized reasons for lack of follow-up with a colonoscopy after the abnormal FIT.

Key results

Of 689 patients with an abnormal FIT, 45% (n = 314) did not complete a follow-up colonoscopy. Among the 314 non-completers, 184 patients reported reasons for not completing a follow-up colonoscopy included health insurance-related challenges (38%), comorbid conditions (37%), social barriers such as transportation difficulties and lack of social support (29%), concerns about FIT/colonoscopy process (12%), competing life priorities (12%), adverse effects of bowel preparation (3%), and poor health literacy (3%). Among the 314 non-completers, 131 patients did not report a barrier, as 51% reported that that had completed a previous colonoscopy in the past 10 years, 10% refused with no reason, and 10% were never reached by phone.


Future studies aimed at improving FIT screening and subsequent colonoscopy rates need to address the unique needs of patients for effective and sustainable screening programs.

Trial registration


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