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Piper MS, Maratt JK, Zikmund-Fisher BJ, Lewis C, Forman J, Vijan S, Metko V, Saini SD. Patient Attitudes Toward Individualized Recommendations to Stop Low-Value Colorectal Cancer Screening. JAMA Network Open. 2018 Dec 7; 1(8):e185461.
Importance: Guidelines for colorectal cancer (CRC) screening recommend an individualized approach in older adults that is informed by consideration of life expectancy and cancer risk. However, little is known about how patients perceive individualized screening recommendations. Objective: To assess veterans' attitudes toward and comfort with cessation of low-value CRC screening (defined as screening in a patient for whom the benefit is expected to be small based on quantitative estimates from hypothetical risk calculators). Design, Setting, and Participants: This survey study included patients older than 50 years who had undergone prior screening colonoscopy with normal results at the Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System. A total of 1500 surveys were mailed to potential participants from November 1, 2010, to January 1, 2012. Survey data were analyzed from January 1, 2016, to December 31, 2017. Main Outcomes and Measures: Response to the question, "If you personally had serious health problems that were likely to shorten your life and your doctor did not think screening would be of much benefit based on the calculator, how comfortable would you be with not getting any more screening colonoscopies?" Results: Of the 1500 surveys mailed, 85 were returned to sender, leaving 1415 potential respondents; 1054 of these respondents (median age range, 60-69 years; 884 [85.9%] white and 965 [94.2%] male) completed the survey (response rate, 74.5%). A total of 300 (28.7%) were not at all comfortable with cessation of low-value CRC screening, and 509 (49.3%) thought that age should never be used to decide when to stop screening. In addition, 332 (31.7%) thought it was not at all reasonable to use life expectancy calculators, and 255 (24.3%) thought it was not at all reasonable to use CRC risk calculators to guide these decisions. In ordered logistic regression analysis, factors associated with more comfort with screening cessation were (1) higher trust in physician (odds ratio [OR], 1.19; 95% CI, 1.07-1.32), (2) higher perceived health status (OR, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.23-1.61), and (3) higher barriers to screening (OR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.11-1.30). Factors that were associated with less comfort with screening cessation included (1) greater perceived effectiveness of screening (OR, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.80-0.94) and (2) greater perceived threat of CRC (OR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.73-0.89). Conclusions and Relevance: The findings suggest that many veterans have strong preferences against screening cessation even when given detailed information about why the benefit may be low. Efforts to tailor screening recommendations may be met by resistance unless they are accompanied by efforts to address underlying perceptions about the benefit of screening.