Bowel cancer screening less likely with low numeracy skills

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According to a new study published in the Journal of Health Psychology, those who have trouble understanding numbers may be less likely to undergo screening for bowel cancer, as well as being more likely to fear a negative result.

For the study, researchers asked people aged 45 to 59 to complete a questionnaire that evaluated their attitudes toward the bowel screening test and their numerical skills. For example, one question asked to identify whether 1 in 10, 1 in 100, or 1 in 1000 represents the greatest risk of developing a disease. About 46% of the 965 respondents got this question wrong.

Furthermore, respondents who were found to have lower numerical skills were more likely to believe that the test was disgusting or embarrassing, and more afraid of a negative result. These people also tended to understand less about the disease and were more likely ignore cancer information.

Specifically, respondents with low numerical skills were more likely to believe they did not need to be screened because they believed they were healthy and their physicians had not advised them to do so.

The findings of this study may help clinicians identify patients less likely to undergo a bowel cancer screening and to aid patients overcome barriers to prevent cancer or detect it early.

High fat diet linked to increased risk of bowel cancers
Those who have trouble understanding numbers may be less likely to undergo screening for bowel cancer.
People who have problems with numbers may be more likely to feel negative about bowel cancer screening, including fearing an abnormal result, while some think the test is disgusting or embarrassing, according to a Cancer Research UK supported study published Monday in the Journal of Health Psychology.
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