Assessing Colorectal Cancer Screening Barriers in Rural Appalachia

Thao Wolbert, Rahman Barry, Todd Gress, Amanda Arrington, Errington Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objectives The age-appropriate colorectal cancer (CRC) screening rate in the rural Appalachian area is low compared with the national rate, which may account for the overall higher incidence of CRC in this area. The purpose of this study was to explore potential barriers to CRC screening in the West Virginia Appalachian area. Methods A cross-sectional survey was designed to identify patient-reported barriers to CRC screening using the health belief model to assess their attitudes and behaviors. Autonomous paper-based surveys were randomly handed to individuals older than 50 years at various locations, including healthcare and nonhealthcare facilities. All of the responses were then categorized into two groups: the screened group and the unscreened group. Differences among both groups were statistically analyzed. Results There were three main areas that significantly accounted for the discrepancies between the screened and unscreened groups: perceptions of discomfort from screening tests, psychological and behavior deterrents in CRC screening and diagnosis, and limited resources for accessing care, especially transportation. In particular, psychological and behavioral deterrents in CRC screening appeared to play a role in promoting aversion to CRC screening. Conclusions Lack of CRC screening awareness and knowledge may be responsible for fatalism regarding CRC and aversion to screening. Thus, multidisciplinary interventions that provide education about CRC screening, early intervention prognosis, and treatment options, as well as addressing systemic barriers to screening, such as assistance with scheduling, prep instructions, and transportation, can improve the screening rate in Appalachia and eventually lead to better outcomes through the early diagnosis of CRC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-298
Number of pages6
JournalSouthern Medical Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2021


  • Appalachian
  • West Virginia
  • colorectal cancer
  • rural
  • screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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