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Website information on colon cancer too complex, fails to address key concerns
Date:4/14/2014

ation resources on colorectal cancer may improve patient understanding and promote screening, an important goal because U.S. colorectal cancer screening rates remain below target levels, the authors said.

The "Healthy People 2010" initiative proposed a colon cancer screening rate of at least 70.5 percent. Colon cancer screening rates remain under 50 percent for those with less than high school reading levels, well below the overall average of about 65 percent, according to the study.

Previous studies have shown that six of 10 people rely on the Internet when seeking information about colonoscopy screening. Yet, readability for 10 of the 12 sites reviewed all from reputable medical societies and considered likely referral sites for physicians surpassed the maximum recommended sixth-grade reading level.

In addition to being too hard to read, the researchers found, the sites failed to address key concerns, such as the risk of getting colon cancer, the chances of dying from colon cancer, and how easy would it be to get screening. The review found that only half of the sites discussed colorectal cancer risk in the general population and only a quarter specifically addressed patients at high risk, such as African Americans, smokers, patients with diabetes, and obese patients.

The sites also failed to adequately address other common barriers to screening. For example, less than 10 percent of the sites addressed embarrassment, a common concern, and only a quarter addressed pain associated with colonoscopy or the costs of the procedure. None specifically mentioned the need for colonoscopy when no symptoms are present. "It is important to add that reading information on a website should not be considered a substitute for consulting a physician," Dr. Agrawal said. "Internet information is best used as a supp
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Contact: Russell Rian
russell.rian@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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