In her recent study to examine why some adults do not undergo a screening for colorectal cancer (CRC), the third leading form of cancer in the U. S., Ithaca College faculty member Srijana Bajracharya found that "fear" (fear of finding a problem and fear of a painful test) was the greatest barrier to adults over 50 seeking the screenings.
The results came from a survey of employees at two Central New York higher education academic institutions. Bajracharya, an associate professor of health promotion, has joined colleagues from other institutions of higher education to expand the survey to include three other colleges and universities in the Northeast.
If those findings replicate Bajracharya's original research, she hopes to develop a broad-based employee education program of cancer screenings for staff members working in higher education.
"In the initial survey, we received responses from 341 people, 233 of whom were over 50, which is the age recommended for screenings," Bajracharya said. "Surprisingly, the study showed that knowledge of colorectal cancer and the screenings was not a factor, and that those who had greater knowledge of the disease and the screenings did not demonstrate fewer barriers."
In addition to the fear factor, the survey showed other major barriers:
• A physician never recommended screening
• The preparation was too difficult
• The test was too embarrassing.
"Colorectal cancer is highly curable if detected early," said Bajracharya. "In working with colleagues from three additional institutions, we hope to gather findings that will help us to design worksite, community-based education programs so we can change fears and perceptions.
Accomplishing this will help people make informed decisions that will allow them to have screenings before it is too late. The higher education community is as much at risk of getting CRC as any other."