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A survey was conducted to study the experiences of patients with false positive results for colorectal cancer. The study patients were participants in a randomized trial of compliance with different methods of colorectal cancer screening by faecal occult blood testing. Fifty four out of fifty six patients (96.4%) with false positive results agreed to be interviewed. An age and sex matched control group of 112 patients with negative test results was identified --92 (82.1%) returned questionnaires. Thirteen of the patients with false positive results (24.1%) and 19 controls (20.7%) were to some extent distressed by the initial letter inviting them to participate in the screening programme. Thirty seven of the patients with false positive results (68.5%) felt some degree of distress at the initial positive test result and 19 (35.2%) some distress because of delays experienced in the process of being screened. Ten false positive patients had colonoscopy and the median waiting time for this procedure was 10 days--half of the patients found this wait distressing. Nevertheless, 53 of the patients with false positive results (98.1%) felt that it had been worthwhile to have had the test. Generally, colorectal screening was as acceptable to the patients who experienced false positive results as to those with negative results.


Journal article


Br J Gen Pract

Publication Date





423 - 425


Adult, Aged, Colorectal Neoplasms, False Positive Reactions, Female, Humans, Male, Mass Screening, Middle Aged, Occult Blood, Patient Acceptance of Health Care