O'Carroll R, Steele R, Libby G, Brownlee L & Chambers J (2013) Anticipated regret to increase uptake of colorectal cancer screening in Scotland (ARTICS): Study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. BMC Public Health, 13, Art. No.: 849. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-13-849
Background: Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the UK. Screening is key to early detection. The Scottish programme of colorectal cancer screening is running successfully, and involves all adults aged between 50 and 74 years being invited to post back a faecal sample for testing every 2 years. However, screening uptake is sub-optimal: for example rates for the period November 2009 to October 2011 ranged from just 39% for males living in the most deprived areas to 67% for least deprived females. Recent research has shown that asking people to consider the emotional consequences of not participating in screening (anticipated regret) can lead to a significant increase in screening uptake.
Methods/Design: We will test a simple anticipated regret manipulation, in a large randomised controlled trial with 60,000 members of the general public. They will be randomly allocated to one of 3 arms, no questionnaire, control questionnaire or anticipated regret questionnaire. The primary outcome will be screening test kit return. Results will also be examined by demographic variables (age, gender, deprivation) as these are currently related to screening kit return.
Discussion: If this anticipated regret intervention leads to a significant increase in colorectal cancer screening kit returns, this would represent a rare example of a theoretically-driven, simple intervention that could result in earlier detection of colorectal cancer and many more lives saved.
Trial registration: Current Controlled trials: ISRCTN74986452
Colorectal cancer; Screening; Anticipated regret; Health locus of control; ‘Ick’ factor
BMC Public Health: Volume 13