Introduction Uptake of UK bowel screening programmes has been lower than anticipated. To improve uptake we need to identify strategies for defined population groups which could be targeted with an intervention.
Method Data on approximately 170,000 subjects in the first year of the Wales Bowel Screening programme were linked to data on other population based screening programmes, the Patient Episode Database for Wales on hospital admissions and routine data on consultations in General Practice using the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage Databank held in Swansea University. From these data sets measures of health usage and health status were derived.
Results Socio-demographic factors associated with uptake were in line with previous studies; women were more likely to take up screening invitations and there was a strong gradient of uptake with area deprivation. Women who regularly attended screening sessions for breast and cervical cancer were much more likely to take up bowel screening and people with a small number chronic conditions were generally more likely to take up screening. Exceptions were obese subjects and those with diabetes who had a lower uptake than average. Smokers had lower uptake than non-smokers and heavy drinkers also had a low uptake. Subjects living in households with more than one eligible person were more likely to be screened, as were those who received influenza immunisations. Those who had an emergency hospital admission in the year preceding the invitation for screening were less likely to take up screening, while those with an elective admission were more likely to be screened.
Conclusion Those who take up screening invitations are in more regular contact with health services than those who decline invitations. Although targeting low response through existing health service contacts may not work as the only strategy, there were defined groups who have contacts who could be targeted.
Disclosure of interest None Declared.