Health literacy and informed decision making regarding colorectal cancer screening: A systematic review

Iris Van Der Heide, Ellen Uiters, A. Jantine Schuit, Jany Rademakers, Mirjam Fransen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Making an informed decision about participation in colorectal cancer (CRC) screening may be challenging for invitees with lower health literacy skills. The aim of this systematic review is to explore to what extent the level of a person’s health literacy is related to their informed decision making concerning CRC screening. We searched for peer-reviewed studies published between 1950 and May 2013 in MEDLINE, EMBASE, SciSearch and PsycINFO. Studies were included when health literacy was studied in relation to concepts underpinning informed decision making (awareness, risk perception, perceived barriers and benefits, knowledge, attitude, deliberation). The quality of the studies was determined and related to the study results. The search returned 2254 papers. Eight studies in total were included, among which seven focused on knowledge, four focused on attitudes or beliefs concerning CRC screening, and one focused on risk perception. The studies found either no association or a positive association between health literacy and concepts underpinning informed decision making. Some studies showed that higher health literacy was associated with more CRC screening knowledge and a more positive attitude toward CRC screening. The results of studies that obtained a lower quality score were no different than studies that obtained a higher quality score. In order to obtain more insight into the association between health literacy and informed decision making in CRC cancer screening, future research should study the multiple aspects of informed decision making in conjunction instead of single aspects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-582
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


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