Social determinants and participation in fecal occult blood test based colorectal cancer screening: A qualitative systematic review and meta-synthesis

Nicole Marinucci, Naomi Moy, Natasha Koloski, Ayesha Shah, Glenn Austin, Rebekah Russell-Bennett, Jacquie McGraw, Uwe Dulleck, Gerald Holtmann

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Issue Addressed: Colorectal cancer (CRC) screening through fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) has saved thousands of lives globally with multiple countries adopting comprehensive population wide screening programs. Participation rates in FOBT based CRC screening for the socially and economically disadvantaged remains low. The aim of this systematic review is to explore empirical evidence that will guide targeted interventions to improve participation rates within priority populations. Methods: PubMed, Embase, Scopus, Cinahl and PsycInfo were systematically searched from inception to 22 June 2022. Eligible studies contained qualitative evidence identifying barriers to FOBT based CRC screening for populations impacted by the social determinants of health. An inductive thematic synthesis approach was applied using grounded theory methodology, to explore descriptive themes and interpret these into higher order analytical constructs and theories. Results: A total of 8,501 publications were identified and screened. A total of 48 studies from 10 countries were eligible for inclusion, representing 2,232 subjects. Coding within included studies resulted in 30 key descriptive themes with a thematic frequency greater than 10%. Coded themes applied to four overarching, interconnected barriers driving inequality for priority populations: social, behavioural, economic and technical/interfaces. So What?: This study has highlighted the need for stronger patient/provider relationships to mitigate barriers to FOBT screening participation for diverse groups. Findings can assist health professionals and policy makers address the systemic exclusion of priority populations in cancer screening by moving beyond the responsibility of the individual to a focus on addressing the information asymmetry driving low value perceptions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalHealth Promotion Journal of Australia
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes


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