Background Stool testing is increasingly used as a GI investigational tool. We are currently conducting a prospective study using non-invasive tests including stool testing in the initial assessment of patients referred to our gastroenterology unit. Faecal sample return rate in our study is 60% for patients<50 years, and 75% for >50 years.
Aim A patient survey was conducted to identify (1) reasons for reduced faecal testing compliance, and (2) ways to improve it.
Method The anonymous survey was randomly distributed to patients in gastroenterology clinics over 4 weeks.
Results Of 282 surveys distributed, 226 (80%) were returned. 3 were excluded. 223 surveys were stratified into group A: age <50 years (n=120), and group B: age >50 years (n=103). 87 (39%) patients were previously asked to provide a stool sample by a medical professional; 48 in group A and 39 in group B. 55% were female. 81 (93%) patients returned the faecal sample, with no statistically significant difference between the two groups. 82% and 84% felt adequately informed regarding the indication and method for stool collection. Reasons for not completing stool testing in 6 patients were, uncomfortable with test or technical difficulty. The good compliance with stool testing which does not correlate with our previous clinical experience, suggests those not completing stool testing were less likely to participate in the survey.
Conclusions Compliance may be improved by patient education, user friendly stool collection kits, and a public based strategy addressing attitudes, fears, and awareness of stool testing.