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OBJECTIVE: To test patient compliance for faecal occult blood testing in suburban and inner city general practice. DESIGN: Prospective opportunistic trial using the Haemoccult test kit. Tests were offered during routine surgery attendance. SETTING: Three group general practices in Birmingham. SUBJECTS: All patients aged 40 years or older on the start date who routinely attended surgery during two years. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Numbers of patients approached for testing and the numbers refusing, accepting, and returning the test kits. RESULTS: Only 26.3% (1230/4677) of the potential target population had been screened within the two years, although 988 (39.3%) of the suburban practice target were screened. However, 55.7% (1230/2207) of patients actually offered a test returned completed kits, with only 6% (133) refusing the kit. 683 (61.6%) patients aged 50-69 returned kits, compared with 343 (54.3%) aged 70 or over and 204 (43.8%) aged 40-49. These differences were significant (p less than 0.001). Patients from the inner city practice were significantly less likely to be offered the test than those in suburban practice (242 (11.2%) v 988 (39.9%), p less than 0.001) and return the samples (242 (38.8%) v 988 (62.4%), p less than 0.001). Patients from the inner city practice were also more likely to refuse the test (78 (12.5%) v 55 (3.5%), p less than 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Opportunistic testing for occult faecal blood in asymptomatic patients was reasonably acceptable to patients, especially those in a suburban practice. If the test is shown to reduce mortality from colorectal cancer then formal screening would probably achieve acceptable target rates, especially among patients aged 50-69, who represent the prime risk group.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





483 - 486


Adult, Age Factors, Aged, Colorectal Neoplasms, Family Practice, Female, Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage, Humans, Male, Mass Screening, Middle Aged, Occult Blood, Patient Acceptance of Health Care, Patient Compliance, Prospective Studies, Sex Factors