Patient experiences of colonoscopy, barium enema and CT colonography: a qualitative study

C Von Wagner, K Knight, S Halligan, W Atkin, Richard Lilford, Dion Morton, J Wardle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies of patient experience with bowel screening tests, in particular CT colonography (CTC), have superimposed global rating scales and not explored individual experience in detail. To redress this, we performed qualitative interviews in order to characterize patient expectations and experiences in depth. Following ethical permission, 16 patients undergoing CTC, 18 undergoing colonoscopy and 15 undergoing barium enema agreed to a semi-structured interview by a health psychologist. Interviews were recorded, responses transcribed and themes extracted with the aim of assimilating individual experiences to facilitate subsequent development and interpretation of quantitative surveys of overall satisfaction with each diagnostic test. Transcript analysis identified three principal themes: physical sensations, social interactions and information provision. Physical sensations differed for each test but were surprisingly well tolerated overall. Social interactions with staff were perceived as very important in colouring the whole experience, particularly in controlling the feelings of embarrassment, which was critical for all procedures. information provision was also an important determinant of experience. Verbal feedback was most common during colonoscopy and invariably reassuring. However, patients undergoing CTC received little visual or verbal feedback and were often confused regarding the test outcome. Barium enema had no specific advantage over other tests, Qualitative interviews provided important perspectives on patient experience. Our data demonstrated that models describing the quality of medical encounters are applicable to single diagnostic episodes. Staff interactions and information provision were particularly important. We found advantages specific to both CTC and colonoscopy but none for barium enema. CTC could benefit greatly from improved information provision following examination.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-19
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Radiology
Issue number973
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


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