Engagement of General Practice in an Australian Organised Bowel Cancer Screening Program: A Cross-Sectional Survey of Knowledge and Practice

Document Type : Research Articles


1 South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, Adelaide, Australia.

2 Discipline of General Practice, Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, and Oakden Medical Centre, Hillcrest, Australia.

3 Cancer Epidemiology and Population Health, Cancer Research Institute, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia.

4 Healthed Pty Ltd, New South Wales, Australia.

5 School of Psychology, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia.

6 Discipline of General Practice, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia.

7 School of Public Health, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia.


Background: Understanding factors causing variation in family physicians/general practitioners (GPs) screening knowledge, understanding and support of organised population-based colorectal cancer (CRC) programs can direct interventions that maximise the influence of a CRC screening recommendation from a GP. This study aims to assess contextual factors that influence knowledge and quality improvement (QI) practice directed to CRC screening in Australian general practice. Methods: A convenience sample of anonymous general practice staff from all Australian states and territories completed a web-based survey. Multivariate analyses assessed the association between CRC screening knowledge and QI-CRC practice scores and patient, organisational and environmental-level contextual factors.  Results: Of 1,013 survey starts, 918 respondents (90.6%) completed the survey. Respondents less likely to recommend FOBT screening had lower knowledge and QI practice scores directed to CRC screening. Controlling for individual and practice characteristics, respondents’ rating of the Australian National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) support for preventive care, attending external education, and sufficient practice resources to implement QI practice (generally) were the strongest factors associated with QI practice directed towards CRC screening. Knowledge scores were less amenable to the influence of contextual factors explored. Conclusion: More active engagement of family medicine/general practice to improve screening promotion could be achieved through better QI resourcing without changing the fundamental design of population-based CRC screening programs.


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