Method: A cross-sectional study was conducted using de-identified patient data from 441 practice sites in MedicineInsight, an Australian general practice database, from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2019.
Results: Of the 683,625 patients eligible for the study, 45,771 (6.7%) had at least one GP-ordered FOBT. The likelihood of having a GP-ordered FOBT was higher among patients aged 5559 years (7.3%) than 7074 years (5.8%), among Indigenous (9.1%) than non-Indigenous (7.0%) and among residents of New South Wales (9.1%), South Australia (8.9%) or Victoria (7.8%) than other states/territories. About 15% of the patients had an FOBT ordered for screening. The outcomes of the GP-ordered FOBT included specialist referral (34.0%), diagnoses such as polyps (2.2%), gastro-intestinal tract inflammatory condition (1.3%) and haemorrhoids (0.9%).
Discussion: Our findings describe characteristics of patients with a GP-ordered FOBT and highlight population sub-groups that can be targeted to increase uptake of the NBCSP. Screening was the reason for 1 in 7 patients with a GP-ordered FOBT.
Implications for practice: Integrating the NBCSP with general practice could improve participation in the screening program. GPs could play an active role in providing information about the NBCSP and how to access the NBCSP test kits to patients who require screening.