Background: Physical discomfort, anxiety, embarrassment, and other aspects of patient experience impact on future compliance for colonic imaging tests. Therefore, a prospective study was performed comparing patient experiences during air contrast barium enema (ACBE), flexible sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy. Methods: Immediately after each procedure, patients completed a questionnaire assessing pretest anxiety, difficulty with preparation, pain, cramping, bloating, overall discomfort, loss of dignity, willingness to repeat the test, and overall satisfaction. A follow-up questionnaire was administered within 48 hours. Nurses and physicians also completed questionnaires to assess the provider impression of patient experience. Results: Four hundred ten patients (80 ACBE, 202 sigmoidoscopy, 128 colonoscopy) were prospectively enrolled. Sigmoidoscopy caused more pain than ACBE (Odds ratio [OR] 2.64: 95% Cl [1.63, 4.27]) or colonoscopy (OR 1.83: 95% Cl [1.21, 2.77]). ACBE and colonoscopy did not differ in the degree of pain. Although overall satisfaction appeared to be similar for all tests, patients were less willing to repeat ACBE than sigmoidoscopy (OR 1.85: 95% Cl [1.13, 3.02]) or colonoscopy (OR 1.82: 95% Cl [1.07, 3.09]). Initial and follow-up pain ratings by patients were highly correlated (Spearman correlation 0.81); however, correlation of pain assessments between staff and patients was poor (Spearman correlation 0.48). Conclusions: Sigmoidoscopy was more painful than other colonic imaging modalities. Although ACBE and colonoscopy caused similar pain, patients were less willing to repeat ACBE. In aggregate, the data suggest that patients perceive colonoscopy as the most acceptable colonic imaging procedure. Better methods are required to allow staff to adequately assess discomfort experienced by patients during these procedures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging