Distance and Transportation Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening in a Rural Community

Katharine M.N. Lee, Jean Hunleth, Liz Rolf, Julia Maki, Marquita Lewis-Thames, Kevin Oestmann, Aimee S. James

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Rural residents in underserved areas face many barriers to health services, including colonoscopies for colorectal cancer (CRC) screening, but rural healthcare providers may assist patients navigating these challenges due to familiarity with local contexts. In 2017 to 2018, we interviewed clinical practitioners and staff (n = 40) at 13 primary care and gastroenterology locations across rural Southern Illinois. We used a semi-structured interview guide that addressed system, provider, and patient levels including domains related to barriers, facilitators, and needs for intervention. This article focuses on 3 main elements related to distance and transportation that emerged from inductive coding. First, providers described long distance travel for care as normalized but not necessarily preferable. Second, they identified and described distance-related challenges specific to CRC screening, and third, providers discussed strategies, mostly related to transportation, they use to navigate those challenges. Finally, they suggested a variety of broader solutions to reduce distance and transportation barriers to screening. Overall, distance to care remains a challenge to increasing CRC screening and contributes to disparities in rural communities. To increase early detection and reduce rural cancer disparities, efforts to increase screening and follow-up must address ways to help patients and providers navigate this distance within their local communities and contexts.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Primary Care and Community Health
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


  • cancer screening
  • colon cancer
  • implementation
  • rural healthcare


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