Characterizing Online Narratives about Colonoscopy Experiences: Comparing Colon Cancer "screeners" Versus "survivors"

Amy McQueen, Lauren D. Arnold, Michael Baltes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Effective screening can reduce colorectal cancer mortality; however, screening uptake is suboptimal. Patients stories about various health topics are widely available online and in behavioral interventions and are valued by patients. Although these narratives may be promising strategies for promoting cancer screening behavior, scant research has compared the influence of different role models. This study involving content analysis of online stories aimed to (a) describe the content of online experiential narratives about colonoscopy; (b) compare narratives from individuals who had a colonoscopy and either had colon cancer (survivors) or did not have colon cancer (screeners); and (c) generate hypotheses for future studies. The authors identified 90 narratives eligible for analysis from 15 websites. More stories were about White patients, men, and routine (vs. diagnostic) colonoscopy. A higher-than-expected number of narratives reported a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps (20%) and a colorectal cancer diagnosis (47%). Colorectal cancer survivor (vs. screener) stories were longer, mentioned symptoms and diagnostic reasons for getting a colonoscopy more often, and described the colonoscopy procedure or referred to it as easy or painless less often. Future studies should examine the effects of the role model's personal characteristics and the colonoscopy test result on reader's perceptions and intentions to have a colorectal cancer screening.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)958-968
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 3 2015


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