Colorectal Cancer Risk Awareness and Screening Uptake among Adults in the United Arab Emirates

Document Type: Research Articles

Authors

1 Primary Healthcare Sector, Dubai Health Authority, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

2 Bedfordshire Centre for Mental Health Research in association with University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

3 Department of Neurology, Carrick Institute, Cape Canaveral, FL, USA.

4 Department of Medical Education, Harvard Macy and MGH Institutes, Boston, MA, USA.

5 Department of Medical Education, Dubai Health Authority, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Abstract

United Arab Emirates initiated the colorectal cancer (CRC) screening on 2013. Yet, one of the barriers to participation
in CRC screening is lack of knowledge about the importance of CRC, its risk factors, and the benefits that could be
gained through screening. We aimed in this study to identify knowledge, attitude, and behavioral factors among the
public that are associated with willingness to undergo CRC screening. A structured bilingual questionnaire in English
and Arabic was designed by a multidisciplinary team and through a review of the literature. The survey consisted of
four functional domains: socio-demographic characteristics, knowledge, attitude, and practice related questions. It
was encouraging that more than 65% of the total participants surveyed for the study were aware of CRC and their
main source of information was media (395, 66%). However, the majority (379, 64%) were thinking that CRC is not
common, and did not hear of the screening test for CRC (401, 67%). An overall evaluation of the answers revealed a
poor level of knowledge on risk factors of CRC, and only 40% correctly identified fecal occult blood as main test for
CRC prevention. Surprisingly, 95% of participants mentioned that the CRC screening was not recommended to them
by a physician. This is the first report analyzing the awareness, attitude and practice of UAE population and assessing
the barriers for CRC screening. Our results demonstrate that better education and communication of the benefits of
early detection of CRC should be addressed to improve the screening in UAE population. There is need for campaigns
and educational programs, both for health care providers and public. Media might play a significant role in this aspect
and new policies need to focus more on increasing community awareness on cancer preventive measures in UAE.

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