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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

Understanding low colorectal cancer screening uptake in South Asian faith communities in England – a qualitative study

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Cecily K. Palmer, Mary C. Thomas, Lesley M. McGregor, Christian von Wagner, Rosalind Raine
Wichtige Hinweise
Cecily K. Palmer, Mary C. Thomas and Lesley M. McGregor contributed equally to this work.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

RR and CvW conceived the study. RR, CvW, CP and MT undertook study design and coordination. CP collected the data. CP, MT and LM undertook the analysis and interpretation of data. All authors were involved in drafting and critically revising the manuscript for important intellectual content. All authors have read and given their approval to submit this version to be published.

Authors’ information

Not applicable.



Colorectal cancer screening uptake within the South Asian population in England is approximately half that of the general population (33 % vs 61 %), and varies by Muslim (31.9 %), Sikh (34.6 %) and Hindu (43.7 %) faith background. This study sought to explore reasons for low uptake of CRC screening in South Asian communities and for the variability of low uptake between three faith communities; and to identify strategies by which uptake might be improved.


We interviewed 16 ‘key informants’ representing communities from the three largest South Asian faith backgrounds (Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism) in London, England.


Reasons for low colorectal cancer screening uptake were overwhelmingly shared across South Asian faith groups. These were: limitations posed by written English; limitations posed by any written language; reliance on younger family members; low awareness of colorectal cancer and screening; and difficulties associated with faeces. Non-written information delivered verbally and interactively within faith or community settings was preferred across faith communities.


Efforts to increase accessibility to colorectal cancer screening in South Asian communities should use local language broadcasts on ethnic media and face-to-face approaches within community and faith settings to increase awareness of colorectal cancer and screening, and address challenges posed by written materials.
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