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Knowledge and Perceptions of the Public VIS-À-VIS Colorectal Cancer Information in Newspapers in Malaysia.

OBJECTIVE: The study examines knowledge and perceptions of colorectal cancer vis-à-vis colorectal cancer information in newspapers in Malaysia.

METHODS: A total of 152 respondents filled in a 76-item questionnaire based on the Health Belief Model. Articles on colorectal cancer in three English newspapers in Malaysia from 1 January to 30 June 2022 were analysed.

RESULT: A majority of the Malaysian respondents had low experiential knowledge of colorectal cancer, high perceived severity, low perceived susceptibility, and low to moderate susceptibility based on self-reported lifestyle and health conditions. The diet factor puts a majority of respondents at risk but smoking, alcohol drinking, and large intestine problems are risk factors for less than 10% of the group. The respondents believed in the benefits of seeking treatment but they were only marginally positive as to whether quitting smoking and losing weight could reduce colorectal cancer risk. They reported strong response efficacy and self-efficacy but the top barriers were lack of knowledge and cost. The strongest cue to action for their health protective intentions was news about colorectal cancer in newspapers, magazines, television and youtube. There were positive moderate correlations among perceived severity, benefits, response efficacy, self-efficacy, cues to action, and intention. Little salience was given to colorectal cancer in the three English newspapers based on the number of articles (N=10). The high frequency of information on severity, susceptibility, and benefits of lifestyle changes and screening in the newspaper articles are reflected in questionnaire results on better knowledge. Lack of information and cost prevented respondents from seeking screening or treatment, despite attempts by the newspaper articles to address barriers.

CONCLUSION: The study suggests a need to heighten cues to action in the mass media and social media by providing information on cost and practical details of colorectal cancer screening and benefits of diet-related risk factors.

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