Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website
Publication Briefs

Study Shows No Racial Disparities in Adherence to CRC Screening among Veterans Receiving VA Care

Compared with Whites, African Americans are more likely to present with Stage IV colorectal cancer (CRC) and are less likely to survive. These disparities are partly attributable to lower rates of CRC screening among African Americans. This study examined the contribution of demographic/health-related factors, cognitive factors, and environmental factors to racial disparities in CRC screening in a nationally representative survey of Veterans ages 50 to 75. Investigators analyzed data for 328 African American Veterans and 1,827 White Veterans who received primary care at one of 24 VA medical facilities between 1/05 and 12/06, and who had completed a 2003 organizational survey on CRC screening. At the time of the survey, CRC screening guidelines recommended men and women age 50 and older have either a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) annually, sigmoidoscopy or double contrast barium enema (DCBE) every five years, colonoscopy every 10 years, or a combination of annual FOBT and sigmoidoscopy every five years. Participants were considered adherent if either their self-report survey or VA claims data indicated that they had followed these guidelines. Investigators also examined patient race, demographics and health factors (e.g., comorbidities), cognitive factors (e.g., CRC knowledge), and environmental factors (e.g., social and medical).


  • The effect of race on adherence to CRC screening guidelines was non-significant after adjusting for demographic/health-related factors and environmental factors.
  • Adherence in both African American and White groups was substantially higher than the national average. The high rates of CRC screening are likely, in part, a result of various VA efforts initiated over the past decade to increase screening adherence.
  • There were no racial differences in physician recommendations for CRC screening: 84% for African Americans and 85% for Whites.
  • Among those who were adherent to CRC screening, African American Veterans had significantly lower rates of colonoscopy compared with White Veterans (47% vs. 57%) and significantly higher rates of FOBT (60% vs. 53%).


  • Part of these findings is based on self-report, and some over-reporting of adherence might have occurred.

This study was funded by HSR&D (IIR 04-042) and by Career Development Awards to Drs. Burgess and Fisher. Dr. Burgess, as well as most of the authors, is part of HSR&D’s Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research in Minneapolis, MN.

PubMed Logo Burgess D, van Ryn M, Grill J, et al. Presence and Correlates of Racial Disparities in Adherence to Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines. Journal of General Internal Medicine 2011 Mar;26(3):251-58.

Related Briefs

» next 65 Cancer Briefs...

» next 61 Disparities Briefs...

What are HSR Publication Briefs?

HSR requires notification by HSR-funded investigators about all articles accepted for publication. These journal articles are reviewed by HSR and publication briefs or summaries are written for a select number of articles that are then forwarded to VHA Central Office leadership to keep them informed about important findings or information. Articles to be summarized are selected by HSR based on timeliness of the findings, interest of leadership, or potential impact on the organization. Publication briefs are written for only a small number of HSR published articles. Visit the HSR citations database for a complete listing of HSR articles and presentations.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.