Health-Seeking Behavior and Barriers to Care in Patients With Rectal Bleeding in Nigeria

Olusegun I Alatise, Sara E Fischer, Omobolaji O Ayandipo, Akinlolu G Omisore, Samuel A Olatoke, T Peter Kingham


Purpose Colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence rates are steadily increasing in Nigeria. Organized screening is still largely unused because of financial and logistical barriers; most CRCs are detected by symptoms. One symptom of CRC is rectal bleeding. This study sought to determine health-seeking behavior and barriers to care in patients with rectal bleeding in Nigeria. This study also surveyed physicians to determine major breakdowns in access to care. Methods The recruitment process for this study involved patients referred for colonoscopy because of rectal bleeding as well as response to a media advertisement for a free colonoscopy. Physicians were recruited at the African Research Group for Oncology meeting. Patient responses were scored on the basis of knowledge of rectal bleeding. The physician questionnaire was supporting information and mainly descriptive in nature. Results A total of 82 patients and 45 physicians participated in this study. Less than 40% of patients knew that rectal bleeding could be caused by cancer. Major barriers to care were resolution of the symptom (42%), no consideration of the bleeding as problematic (40%), and financial constraint (22%). Education was strongly correlated with knowledge of rectal bleeding and health-seeking behavior. Although physicians regularly saw patients with rectal bleeding, most of them provided a differential diagnosis of hemorrhoids and few referred patients for colonoscopy. Conclusion General awareness about the signs of colorectal cancer is lacking. This demonstrates the strong need for patient education programs about this issue. Physicians should also receive additional training on differentiation of a potential cancer diagnosis from something more benign, such as hemorrhoids.

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