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Comparing uptake across breast, cervical and bowel screening at an individual level: a retrospective cohort study

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Colin McCowan, Paula McSkimming, Richard Papworth, Marie Kotzur, Alex McConnachie, Sara Macdonald, Sally Wyke, Emilia Crighton, Christine Campbell, David Weller, Robert JC Steele, Kathryn A Robb

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We investigated demographic and clinical predictors of lower participation in bowel screening relative to breast and cervical screening.


Data linkage study of routinely collected clinical data from 430,591 women registered with general practices in the Greater Glasgow & Clyde Health Board. Participation in the screening programmes was measured by attendance at breast or cervical screening or the return of a bowel screening kit.


72.6% of 159,993 women invited attended breast screening, 80.7% of 309,899 women invited attended cervical screening and 61.7% of 180,408 women invited completed bowel screening. Of the 68,324 women invited to participate in all three screening programmes during the study period, 52.1% participated in all three while 7.2% participated in none. Women who participated in breast (OR = 3.34 (3.21, 3.47), p < 0.001) or cervical (OR = 3.48 (3.32, 3.65), p < 0.001) were more likely to participate in bowel screening.


Participation in bowel screening was lower than breast or cervical for this population although the same demographic factors were associated with uptake, namely lower social deprivation, increasing age, low levels of comorbidity and prior non-malignant neoplasms. As women who complete breast and cervical are more likely to also complete bowel screening, interventions at these procedures to encourage bowel screening participation should be explored.



Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Early online date4 Sep 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Sep 2019

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