Attributes Characterizing Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests That Influence Preferences of Individuals Eligible for Screening in Germany : a Qualitative Study


This qualitative study is part of the SIGMO study, which evaluates general populations' preferences for colorectal cancer (CRC) screening in Germany using a discrete choice experiment. Attribute identification and selection are essential in the construction of choice tasks and should be evidence-based ensuring that attributes are relevant to potential beneficiaries and contribute to overall utility. Therefore, this qualitative study aims to identify relevant attributes characterizing CRC screening tests from the perspective of those eligible for screening in Germany.

Patients and methods

Individuals aged 50 to 60 were purposively selected. A questioning route was developed and piloted. Four focus groups (FG) (n=20) were conducted (November 2019) with two moderators and one observer each. FGs were audio recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Attributes were deductively assigned based on a priori identified attribute categories, and inductively derived.


Across FGs, 24 attributes (n=293 codes) were discussed, five of which (sedation, inability to work, transportation home, predictive values, waiting time for screening colonoscopy) were inductively derived (n=76 codes). Four attributes identified a priori were not addressed in any FG. The most frequently discussed attribute category was procedural characteristics, followed by measures of screening test validity, benefits, harms, and structural characteristics of health care. The most commonly addressed attributes were preprocedural bowel cleansing, kind of procedure, and predictive values.


Newly identified attributes characterizing CRC screening tests from an individual's perspective, and a priori identified attributes not addressed by any FG stress the added value of qualitative research and thereby the importance of applying a mix of methods in identifying and selecting attributes for the construction of choice tasks. This study meets the requirements for a transparent and detailed presentation of the qualitative methods used in this process, which has rarely been the case before.


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