The role of defensive information processing in population-based colorectal cancer screening uptake

Nicholas Clarke, Louise Hayes, Amy McQueen, Pamela Gallagher, Patricia M. Kearney, Deirdre McNamara, Colm A. O’Morain, Christian von Wagner, Therese Mooney, Linda Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Internationally, colorectal cancer screening participation remains low despite the availability of home-based testing and numerous interventions to increase uptake. To be effective, interventions should be based on an understanding of what influences individuals’ decisions about screening participation. This study investigates the association of defensive information processing (DIP) with fecal immunochemical test (FIT)–based colorectal cancer screening uptake. Methods: Regression modeling of data from a cross-sectional survey within a population-based FIT screening program was conducted. The survey included the seven subdomains of the McQueen DIP measure. The primary outcome variable was the uptake status (screening user or nonuser). Multivariable logistic regression was used to estimate the odds ratio (OR) for screening nonuse by DIP (sub)domain score, with adjustments made for sociodemographic and behavioral factors associated with uptake. Results: Higher scores (equating to greater defensiveness) on all DIP domains were significantly associated with lower uptake in the model adjusted for sociodemographic factors. In the model with additional adjustments for behavioral factors, the suppression subdomains of “deny immediacy to be tested” (OR, 0.53; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.43–0.65; p <.001) and “self-exemption” (OR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.68–0.96; p <.001) independently predicted nonuse of FIT-based screening. Conclusions: This is the first study outside the United States that has identified DIP as a barrier to colorectal cancer screening uptake, and it is the first focused specifically on FIT-based screening. The findings suggest that two suppression barriers, namely denying the immediacy to be tested and self-exempting oneself from screening, may be promising targets for future interventions to improve uptake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1253-1260
Number of pages8
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2023


  • colorectal cancer screening
  • defensive information processing
  • fecal immunochemical test
  • participation
  • uptake


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