Objective To explore the accessibility of standardized printed information materials of the national Dutch colorectal cancer screening program among low health literate screening invitees and to assess the effect of the information on their knowledge about colorectal cancer and the screening program. Methods Linguistic tools were used to analyze the text and design characteristics. The accessibility, comprehensibility and relevance of the information materials were explored in interviews and in observations (n = 25). The effect of the information on knowledge was assessed in an online survey (n = 127). Results The materials employed a simple text and design. However, respondents expressed problems with the amount of information, and the difference between screening and diagnostic follow-up. Knowledge significantly increased in 10 out of 16 items after reading the information but remained low for colorectal cancer risk, sensitivity of testing, and the voluntariness of colorectal cancer screening. Conclusion Despite intelligible linguistic and design characteristics, screening invitees with low health literacy had problems in accessing, comprehending and applying standard information materials on colorectal cancer screening, and lacked essential knowledge for informed decision-making about participation. Practice implications To enable equal access to informed decision-making, information strategies need to be adjusted to the skills of low health literate screening invitees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-336
Number of pages10
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number2
Early online date2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Decision-making
  • Early detection of cancer
  • Health communication
  • Health literacy

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