Medical Mistrust and Colorectal Cancer Screening Among African Americans

Leslie B. Adams, Jennifer Richmond, Giselle Corbie-Smith, Wizdom Powell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Despite well-documented benefits of colorectal cancer (CRC) screening, African Americans are less likely to be screened and have higher CRC incidence and mortality than Whites. Emerging evidence suggests medical mistrust may influence CRC screening disparities among African Americans. The goal of this systematic review was to summarize evidence investigating associations between medical mistrust and CRC screening among African Americans, and variations in these associations by gender, CRC screening type, and level of mistrust. MEDLINE, CINAHL, Web of Science, PsycINFO, Google Scholar, Cochrane Database, and EMBASE were searched for English-language articles published from January 2000 to November 2016. 27 articles were included for this review (15 quantitative, 11 qualitative and 1 mixed methods study). The majority of quantitative studies linked higher mistrust scores with lower rates of CRC screening among African Americans. Most studies examined mistrust at the physician level, but few quantitative studies analyzed mistrust at an organizational level (i.e. healthcare systems, insurance, etc.). Quantitative differences in mistrust and CRC screening by gender were mixed, but qualitative studies highlighted fear of experimentation and intrusiveness of screening methods as unique themes among African American men. Limitations include heterogeneity in mistrust and CRC measures, and possible publication bias. Future studies should address methodological challenges found in this review, such as limited use of validated and reliable mistrust measures, examination of CRC screening outcomes beyond beliefs and intent, and a more thorough analysis of gender roles in the cancer screening process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1044-1061
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Community Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • African Americans
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Medical mistrust
  • Preventive screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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