Physician Non-adherence to Colonoscopy Interval Guidelines in the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.

Journal Article (Multicenter Study;Journal Article)

Background & aims

Colonoscopy can decrease colorectal cancer (CRC) mortality, although performing this procedure more frequently than recommended could increase costs and risks to patients. We aimed to determine rates and correlates of physician non-adherence to guidelines for repeat colonoscopy screening and polyp surveillance intervals.


We performed a multi-center, retrospective, observational study using administrative claims, physician databases, and electronic medical records (EMR) from 1455 patients (50-64 y old) who underwent colonoscopy in the Veterans Affairs healthcare system in fiscal year 2008. Patients had no prior diagnosis of CRC or inflammatory bowel disease, and had not undergone colonoscopy examinations in the previous 10 years. We compared EMR-documented, endoscopist-recommended intervals for colonoscopies with intervals recommended by the 2008 Multi-Society Task Force guidelines.


The overall rate of non-adherence to guideline recommendations was 36% and ranged from 3% to 80% among facilities. Non-adherence was 28% for patients who underwent normal colonoscopies, but 45%-52% after colonoscopies that identified hyperplastic or adenomatous polyps. Most of all recommendations that were not followed recommended a shorter surveillance interval. In adjusted analyses, non-adherence was significantly higher for patients whose colonoscopies identified hyperplastic (odds ratio [OR] = 3.1; 95% CI, 1.7-5.5) or high-risk adenomatous polyps (OR = 3.0; 95% CI, 1.2-8.0), compared to patients with normal colonoscopy examinations, but not for patients with low-risk adenomatous polyps (OR = 1.8; 95% CI, 0.9-3.7). Nonadherence was also associated with bowel preparation quality, geographic region, Charlson comorbidity score, and colonoscopy indication.


In a managed care setting with salaried physicians, endoscopists recommend repeat colonoscopy sooner than guidelines for more than one third of patients. Factors associated with non-adherence to guideline recommendations were colonoscopy findings, quality of bowel preparation, and geographic region. Targeting endoscopist about non-adherence to colonoscopy guidelines could reduce overuse of colonoscopy and associated healthcare costs.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Johnson, MR; Grubber, J; Grambow, SC; Maciejewski, ML; Dunn-Thomas, T; Provenzale, D; Fisher, DA

Published Date

  • October 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 149 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 938 - 951

PubMed ID

  • 26122143

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1528-0012

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0016-5085

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1053/j.gastro.2015.06.026


  • eng