Cross-sectional Survey Examining Patient Attitudes and Preferences for Rescheduling Screening Colonoscopies Canceled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Document Type


Publication Date



Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, Oncology

Journal Title

MDM Policy & Practice


UNLABELLED: Early in the COVID-19 pandemic colonoscopies for colorectal cancer (CRC) screening were canceled. Patient perceptions of the benefits and risks of routine screening relative to health concerns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic were unknown. Assess patient anxiety, worry, and interest in CRC screening during the COVID-19 pandemic. A random sample of 200 patients aged 45 to 75 y with colonoscopy cancellation due to COVID-19 in March to May 2020 were surveyed. Anxiety, COVID-19 and CRC risk perceptions, COVID-19 and CRC worry, likelihood of following through with colonoscopy in the next month, and interest in alternatives to colonoscopy were assessed. Subsequent screening was tracked for 12 mo. Respondents ( = 127/200, 63.5%) were on average 60 y old, female (59%), college educated (62% college degree or more), and White (91%). A substantial portion of patients (46%) stated they may not follow through with a colonoscopy in the next month. There was greater interest in stool-based testing than in delaying screening (48% v. 26%). Women, older patients, and patients indicating tolerance of uncertainty due to complexity reported they were less likely to follow through with colonoscopy in the next month. Greater interest in stool-based testing was related to lower perceptions of CRC risk. Greater interest in delaying screening was related to less worry about CRC and less tolerance of risk. Over 12 mo, 60% of participants completed screening. Patients who stated they were more likely to screen in the next month were more likely to complete CRC screening ( = 0.01). Respondents who had a colonoscopy canceled during the COVID-19 pandemic varied in interest in rescheduling the procedure. A shared decision-making approach may help patients address varying concerns and select the best approach to screening for them. HIGHLIGHTS: In the wake of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost half of patients stated they were not likely to follow through with a colonoscopy in the short term, about half were interested in screening with a stool-based test, and only one-quarter were interested in delaying screening until next year.Patients who perceived themselves at higher risk of colorectal cancer were less interested in stool-based testing, and patients who were more worried about colorectal cancer were less interested in delaying screening.A shared decision-making approach may be necessary to tailor screening discussions for patients during subsequent waves of the pandemic, other occasions where resources are limited and patient preferences vary, or where patients hold conflicting views of screening.