Open Access Research article

Sociodemographic and health-related predictors of self-reported mammogram, faecal occult blood test and prostate specific antigen test use in a large Australian study

Marianne F Weber1*, Michelle Cunich2, David P Smith1, Glenn Salkeld2, Freddy Sitas1 and Dianne O’Connell1234

Author Affiliations

1 Cancer Research Division, Cancer Council NSW, PO Box 572, Kings Cross, Sydney, NSW 1340, Australia

2 School of Public Health, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

3 School of Medicine and Public Health, The University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW 2308, Australia

4 School of Public Health and Community Medicine, The University of New South Wales, Kensington, NSW 2052, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:429  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-429

Published: 3 May 2013



While several studies have examined factors that influence the use of breast screening mammography, faecal occult blood tests (FOBT) for bowel cancer screening and prostate specific antigen (PSA) tests for prostate disease in Australia, research directly comparing the use of these tests is sparse. We examined sociodemographic and health-related factors associated with the use of these tests in the previous two years either alone or in combination.


Cross-sectional analysis of self-reported questionnaire data from 96,711 women and 82,648 men aged 50 or over in The 45 and Up Study in NSW (2006–2010).


5.9% of men had a FOBT alone, 44.9% had a PSA test alone, 18.7% had both tests, and 30.6% had neither test. 3.2% of women had a FOBT alone, 56.0% had a mammogram alone, 16.2% had both and 24.7% had neither test. Among men, age and socioeconomic factors were largely associated with having both FOBT and PSA tests. PSA testing alone was largely associated with age, family history of prostate cancer, health insurance status and visiting a doctor. Among women, age, use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), health insurance status, family history of breast cancer, being retired and not having a disability were associated with both FOBT and mammograms. Mammography use alone was largely associated with age, use of HRT and family history of breast cancer. FOBT use alone among men was associated with high income, living in regional areas and being fully-retired and among women, being fully-retired or sick/disabled.


These results add to the literature on sociodemographic discrepancies related to cancer screening uptake and highlight the fact that many people are being screened for one cancer when they could be screened for two.

Cancer screening; Mammography; Faecal occult blood test; Prostate specific antigen test; Sociodemographic characteristics; Socioeconomic status