Rural disparities in receipt of colorectal cancer screening among adults ages 50–64 with disabilities

Willi Horner-Johnson, Ph.D., Konrad Dobbertin, M.P.H., Jae Chul Lee, Ph.D., Elena M. Andresen, Ph.D.

Disability and Health Journal, Vol. 7, Issue 4, p394–401
Published online: June 17, 2014


Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Early detection can reduce mortality; however, only 59% of U.S. adults age 50 and over meet recommended colorectal cancer screening guidelines. Studies in the general population have observed that rural residents are less likely to have received colorectal cancer screening than residents of urban areas.


To determine whether urban/rural disparities in colorectal cancer screening exist among people with disabilities, similar to the disparities found in the general population.


We analyzed Medical Expenditure Panel Survey annual data files from 2002 to 2008. We conducted logistic regression analyses to examine the relationship between urban/rural residence and ever having received screening for colorectal cancer (via colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, or fecal occult blood test).


Among U.S. adults ages 50–64 with disabilities, those living in rural areas were significantly less likely to have ever received any type of screening for colorectal cancer. The urban/rural difference was statistically significant regardless of whether or not we controlled for demographic, socioeconomic, health, and health care access variables.


Disparity in screening for colorectal cancer places rural residents with disabilities at greater risk for late stage diagnosis and mortality relative to people with disabilities in urban areas. Thus, there is a need for strategies to improve screening among people with disabilities in rural areas.


People with disabilities, Cancer screening, Rural population, Health care disparities, Population surveillance