International Journal of Colorectal Disease

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 419–422 | Cite as

Screening in spouses of colorectal cancer patients: a missed opportunity

  • Ker-Kan TanEmail author
  • Tian-Zhi Lim
  • Emily Chew
  • Wen-Min Chow
  • Nan Luo
  • Mee-Lian Wong
  • Gerald Choon-Huat Koh
Original Article



Spouses of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients could be at increased risk of developing CRC due to shared lifestyle habits with the patients which is a notable risk factor. This study explores the various issues surrounding CRC screening among these spouses.


A mixed method study comprising in-depth qualitative semi-structured interviews followed by structured quantitative questionnaire was administered to spouses who accompanied CRC patients during their appointments, from January 2016 to February 2017.


Fifty spouses of CRC patients, median age of 60 (range, 41–82) years, were qualitatively interviewed but 5 of them did not complete the questionnaire. Only 26 (57.8%) of them were current with CRC screening. Data saturation was reached at the 48th participant.

Four main themes emerged from the qualitative interviews. These included (i) adequacy of knowledge and attitudes about CRC screening, (ii) suboptimal public health promotion efforts of CRC screening, (iii) barriers of CRC screening, and (iv) need for mutual spousal support.

From the questionnaires, spouses who were not current with CRC screening were more likely to report more barriers and have different cues to actions than those who are current. The majority of the spouses demonstrated high levels of knowledge on CRC, understood its severity and their susceptibility.


Spouses exhibit high levels of knowledge and awareness of the implications of CRC. Apart from addressing psychological issues during the acute phases, targeted interventions should be considered to improve their screening rates and to use them as advocates for CRC screening among family and community.


Colorectal cancer Spouses Screening Mixed-method Qualitative Quantitative 


Compliance with ethical standards

The study was approved by the National Healthcare Group’s Domain Specific Research Board.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

384_2018_2975_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Supplementary File 1 Details of the Methodology (DOCX 13 kb)
384_2018_2975_MOESM2_ESM.docx (24 kb)
Supplementary File 2 Excerpts of the transcripts of the qualitative interviews (DOCX 23 kb)
384_2018_2975_MOESM3_ESM.docx (20 kb)
Supplementary File 3 Tables of the quantitative questionnaire (DOCX 19 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Colorectal SurgeryUniversity Surgical Cluster, National University Health SystemSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Saw Swee Hock School of Public HealthNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  3. 3.Department of Surgery, Yong Loo Lin School of MedicineNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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