Background: Participation in cancer screening programmes might cause worries in the population outweighing the benefits of reduced mortality. The present study aimed to investigate possible psychological harm of participation in a colorectal cancer (CRC) screening pilot in Norway.
Methods: In a prospective, randomised trial participants (aged 50-74 years) were invited to either flexible sigmoidoscopy (FS) screening, faecal immunochemical test (FIT), or no screening (the control group; 1 : 1: 1). Three thousand two hundred and thirteen screening participants (42% of screened individuals) completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale questionnaire as well as the SF-12-a health-related quality of life (HRQOL) questionnaire when invited to screening and when receiving the screening result. A control group was invited to complete the questionnaires only. Two thousand six hundred and eighteen control participants (35% of invited individuals) completed the questionnaire.
Results: A positive screening result did not increase participants' level of anxiety or depression, or decrease participants' level of HRQOL. Participants who received a negative result reported decreased anxiety and improvement on some HRQOL dimensions. However, no change was considered to be of clinical relevance.
Conclusion: The current study showed no clinically relevant psychological harm of receiving a positive CRC screening result or of participating in FS or FIT screening, in a Norwegian population.