Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

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 < 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 < 0.001) and return the samples (242 (38.8%) v 988 (62.4%), p < 0.001). Patients from the inner city practice were also more likely to refuse the tets (78 (12.5%) v 55 (3.5%), p < 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


British Medical Journal

Publication Date





483 - 486