Why Don't Gastroenterologists Follow Colon Polyp Surveillance Guidelines?: Results of a National Survey

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GoalsTo measure knowledge and acceptance of colon polyp surveillance guidelines among gastroenterologists.BackgroundGastroenterologists often perform surveillance colonoscopy sooner than recommended by guidelines. Lack of knowledge may be an important factor, but gastroenterologists could also simply disagree with guideline recommendations.StudyA 24-item multiple-choice survey was developed from the 2003 multisociety colorectal cancer screening and surveillance guideline. The survey was distributed to practicing gastroenterologists preparing for the gastroenterology board recertification examination at 2 major national gastroenterology board review courses. For each question, subjects were given a clinical scenario and asked: (1) the guideline recommendation for the scenario; (2) their usual practice in the scenario; and, (3) if they definitely knew the recommendation or were simply guessing at the correct answer. If a respondent knew the recommendation but differed in their usual practice, this was considered disagreement with the recommendation.ResultsThe survey was completed by 57.1% (116/203) of gastroenterologists preparing for 2004 recertification. Seventy-eight percent reported that they were familiar with the 2003 guideline, though only 57% reported that guidelines were “very influential” in their practice. Many did not correctly answer questions on the recommended interval for hyperplastic polyps (12%), 2 small adenomas (36%), 3 small adenomas (49%), and adenoma with high-grade dysplasia (41%). Of gastroenterologists who knew the guideline recommendations, up to 76% disagreed with the recommendations and chose to perform surveillance sooner than recommended.ConclusionsThough many gastroenterologists lack knowledge about guideline recommendations for colon polyp surveillance, even those who know the recommendations often ignore them and perform surveillance colonoscopy sooner than recommended.

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