IU School of Nursing studies find colorectal cancer screenings closely related to doctor recommendation

April 22, 2001

Two recent studies conducted by researchers at the IU School of Nursing at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) found that one of the top reasons people do not get screened for colorectal cancer is because their physician did not recommend it.

The researchers are now conducting a study to find out why physicians are not recommending these life-saving tests.

"As our studies demonstrate, a doctor's recommendation is critical to improving screening rates for colorectal cancer," said IU School of Nursing Assistant Professor Susan Rawl. "If we can find out what the barriers are to physicians recommending and patients actually getting these screenings, then we should be able to dramatically increase the number of people being screened, and thus, save lives." According to experts, colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., is one of the most preventable forms of cancer and if found early, 90% of cases can be cured.

One study, conducted by IU School of Nursing postdoctoral fellow Usha Menon in collaboration with Eli Lilly of more than 200 patients with average risk (no relatives with colorectal cancer), found that patients were five to seven times more likely to be screened if their physician recommended it. Other reasons that patients did not get screened were fear of the results, not having time, and a lack of symptoms. The study was funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research.

A second study, led by Rawl in affliation with the Walther Cancer Institute, found similar results with 250 immediate family members of colorectal cancer survivors. Having a relative with the disease is a known risk factor. Researchers found lack of physician recommendation was the top reason patients did not get screened. Other reasons included embarrassment, lack of knowledge about the procedure, and fear of pain.

Because of their findings, Rawl and Menon have teamed up to conduct a statewide study of physicians to find out why they are not recommending screenings. Both are also planning to conduct similar studies with larger groups, as well as studies on the impact of tailored messages on increasing screenings.
The IU School of Nursing opened in 1914 in Indianapolis and has become the largest multipurpose nursing school in the country. U.S. News and World Report recently ranked the school 12th overall for its graduate program and the school is also 12th nationally in National Institute of Health funding for nursing schools. The IU School of Nursing offers programs on eight campuses throughout Indiana.

IUPUI is a leading urban university campus where achievement-oriented students receive degrees from Indiana University or Purdue University. With more than 10,000 classes in hundreds of career fields, IUPUI offers the broadest range of degree programs of any campus in Indiana. Located in the heart of Indiana's capital city with many opportunities for internships and employment, IUPUI offers its 27,000 students small-sized classes, state of the art facilities, and exceptional faculty.

Indiana University

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