Respondent selection in a repeated survey on lifestyle within the randomized colorectal cancer screening programme

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Screening for colorectal cancer (CRC) has been shown to decrease colorectal cancer mortality in randomized-controlled trials. However, screening may have an adverse impact on an individual’s lifestyle. We describe here the design of a repeated survey study on lifestyle and assess response in the survey target population by randomization to CRC screening and demographic factors. The survey study population (n=10271) included Finnish men and women born in 1951 who were randomized for the CRC screening programme in 2011 and received a questionnaire on lifestyle in 2010 and 2012. We assessed responding by randomization to CRC screening, calendar time and demographic factors using the population-averaged Poisson model. Responding to survey was overall similar in 2010 and 2012. Those invited for CRC screening increased responding in time [incidence rate ratio (IRR) 1.06, confidence interval (CI) 1.03–1.09], whereas controls decreased their responding (IRR 0.97, CI 0.94–1.00). Women were more likely to respond than men (IRR 1.17, CI 1.12–1.23). Also, secondary (IRR 1.20, CI 1.13–1.27) and tertiary (IRR 1.31, CI 1.23–1.40) level education increased the response proportion compared with primary-level education. We could reliably assess the effect of CRC screening invitation and demographic factors on survey response. Although invitation to CRC screening increased responding, the self-selection was similar on both survey rounds. Self-selection should be taken into account when generalizing results from survey studies to their target population.

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