Centre for Behavioural
Research in Cancer

Evaluation of mass media campaigns to promote bowel cancer screening using faecal occult blood tests

Although bowel cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer death, around 90% of bowel cancer cases can be treated successfully if detected early. Screening for bowel cancer via faecal occult blood tests (FOBTs) has been shown to markedly reduce bowel cancer mortality. The Australian national bowel cancer screening program sends immunochemical FOBTs directly to the homes of people aged 50 to 74 years, and those who participate are re-invited every two years. To date, the national program has used only limited means to promote these tests to the public of eligible age. Participation in the national program is relatively low at around 40%, with lack of awareness of bowel cancer and the benefits of screening likely contributing to poorer screening rates. This project aims to evaluate the impact of mass-reach media campaigns to promote the benefits of bowel cancer screening on return of FOBT kits among the target group of people who were and were not exposed to particular media campaigns. Analysis will investigate effects overall and among population subgroups. Using a population survey approach, the project also aims to evaluate other markers of campaign impact such as attitude change and interpersonal discussion and encouragement to do the test.

CBRC staff

A/Prof Sarah Durkin, Dr Belinda Morley, Philippa Niven, Prof Melanie Wakefield


A/Prof Matthew Spittal (The University of Melbourne), Kate Broun and the Media and Communications team (Cancer Council Victoria)


Cancer Council Victoria (previous evaluation funded by Cancer Council Australia)


2014 - present