Citation O'Carroll R, Chambers J, Brownlee L, Libby G & Steele R (2015) Anticipated regret to increase uptake of colorectal cancer screening
(ARTICS): a randomised controlled trial. Social Science and Medicine, 142, pp. 118-127. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.07.026
Abstract Objective. Screening is key to early detection of colorectal cancer. Our aim was to determine whether a simple anticipated regret (AR) intervention could increase colorectal cancer screening uptake.
Methods. We conducted a randomised controlled trial of a simple, questionnaire-based AR intervention, delivered alongside existing pre-notification letters. 60,000 adults aged 50-74 from the Scottish National Screening programme were randomised to: 1) no questionnaire (control), 2) Health Locus of Control questionnaire (HLOC) or 3) HLOC plus anticipated regret questionnaire (AR). Primary outcome was guaiac Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) return. Secondary outcomes included intention to return test kit and perceived disgust (ICK).
Results. 59,366 people were analysed as allocated (Intentionto- treat (ITT)); there were no overall differences between treatment groups on FOBT uptake (control: 57.3%, HLOC: 56.9%, AR: 57.4%). 13,645 (34.2%) people returned questionnaires. Analysis of the secondary questionnaire measures showed that AR had an indirect effect on FOBT uptake via intention, whilst ICK had a direct effect on FOBT uptake over and above intention. The effect of AR on FOBT uptake was also moderated by intention strength: for less than strong intenders only, uptake was 4.2% higher in the AR (84.6%) versus the HLOC group (80.4%) (95% CI for difference (2.0, 6.5)).
Conclusion. The findings show that psychological concepts including anticipated regret and perceived disgust (ICK) are important factors in determining FOBT uptake. However, there was no simple effect of the AR intervention in the ITT. We conclude that exposure to AR in those with low intentions may be required to increase FOBT uptake. Current controlled trials: www.controlledtrials. com number: ISRCTN74986452.