Community perceptions of bowel cancer: A survey of Queenslanders

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Australia. The Australian Cancer Society has set a national goal 'to exploit prevention opportunities and to increase early detection'. To address this goal, information about community perceptions is required. Through the use of a Delphi process, a questionnaire was developed to investigate community knowledge, attitudes and beliefs regarding primary prevention and early detection activities. This paper describes the results of a postal survey of a random sample of 855 Queensland adults selected from electoral rolls. Results indicate that there is a high level of uncertainty about bowel cancer and a belief that many behaviours are related to bowel cancer. While 74 per cent believed that tests could detect bowel cancer, only 52 per cent were confident that a doctor could accurately diagnose it. Only 35 per cent agreed that the public should be screened for bowel cancer and only 10 per cent would get a check-up. Perhaps reflecting the degree of uncertainty among health professionals about bowel cancer, there appears to be a high level of misinformation and confusion in the community. The need for an educational programme to address these issues is discussed. Article in Health Education Journal 54(3):331-339 · September 1995
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