A qualitative study exploring patient motivations for screening for lung cancer

Joshua A Roth, Lisa Carter-Harris, Susan Brandzel, Diana S M Buist, Karen J Wernli
PloS One 2018, 13 (7): e0196758

BACKGROUND: Low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) of the chest for lung cancer screening of heavy smokers was given a 'B' rating by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) in 2013, and gained widespread insurance coverage in the U.S. in 2015. Lung cancer screening has since had low uptake. However, for those that do choose to screen, little is known about patient motivations for completing screening in real-world practice.

OBJECTIVE: To explore the motivations for screening-eligible patients to screen for lung cancer.

METHODS: Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 20 LDCT screen-completed men and women who were members of an integrated mixed-model healthcare system in Washington State. From June to September 2015, participants were recruited and individual interviews performed about motivations to screen for lung cancer. Audio-recorded interviews were transcribed and analyzed using inductive content analysis by three investigators.

RESULTS: Four primary themes emerged as motivations for completing LDCT lung cancer screening: 1) trust in the referring clinician; 2) early-detection benefit; 3) low or limited harm perception; and 4) friends or family with advanced cancer.

CONCLUSION: Participants in our study were primarily motivated to screen for lung cancer based on perceived benefit of early-detection, absence of safety concerns, and personal relationships. Our findings provide new insights about patient motivations to screen, and can potentially be used to improve lung cancer screening uptake and shared decision-making processes.

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