A-Z

Bowel Screening

Storing the samples and posting them

When doing a Faecal Occult Blood test, the stool samples (faeces) have to be collected from three separate motions. Samples may be taken from three motions in a row or on three different days, which do not have to be consecutive. All the samples must be collected within 14 days. After taking the first sample the test kit must be stored somewhere while waiting for the next one. The kit should not be left in a warm place or in direct sunlight. 

Most people kept their test kit in the bathroom, in a cabinet, a drawer, or in a plastic bag or plastic box.

 

He kept his test kit in a little container on a bathroom shelf out of direct sunlight and away...

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Age at interview: 59
Sex: Male
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Where did you store it between the different times that you had to use the test kit?

I kept it on the bathroom shelf in a little container, so that it was away from everything you know. But I suppose really you could either keep it in your bathroom cabinet, somewhere convenient you know, somewhere where it's not liable to be contaminated by any liquids or direct sunlight.

 

She thought the sample might smell, and kept the test kit in a plastic box.

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Age at interview: 57
Sex: Female
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For a start I had to think about did I want to do it, because I was concerned, do they have to have it done right away? But then of course I read about it again and I thought, 'Well I've got fourteen days so it doesn't matter.' But, but yes, I did mine possibly over a matter of about a week, mine took about a week to do it.

What was your biggest concern, were you worried about storing it?

I was worried about storing it, I was thinking well if I did one say Monday and I didn't go again till Wednesday or Thursday where would I keep it, is it going to smell? And then I just, I just kept it in a little plastic box personally, I put it in a plastic box and kept it in the bathroom until I did it, till I did the three and I was able to post them off.

One man kept his kit beside his toothpaste so that he would be reminded to collect another sample the next day. Someone else kept the kit in an empty bath and another person kept hers on a cold tile. One woman was worried that her flat was too warm so she kept her test kit in her 'bogy hole', a cool cupboard where she kept her brooms. 

 
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She stored her test kit in a cool place while waiting to collect the next sample.

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Age at interview: 62
Sex: Female
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Yes. Did you find it all quite straight forward, the information?

Yes, yes really straight forward really every instruction and every; you just, you just follow it, it couldn't be simpler.

Oh that's good, and where did you store it [the test kit] in between each day?

In me bogy hole, in my bogy hole, yeah I've got, it's like where I put the brooms and everything and it's got to be cool you see. Well everywhere is heated in this flat so I just got the first one and put it back in the envelope and shut it in the bogy hole. I thought I'm not doing another one, but I did.

Yes, and then you finally put it in the post?

Yes.

After all the samples have been collected people are asked put the test kit into a prepaid envelope and then in the post. Most people seemed to be happy about this, but a few either worried about hygiene, felt embarrassed or anxious about the idea of putting faeces in the post, or worried that the envelope might be opened. However, the information that arrives with the test kit makes it clear that the envelope meets postal regulations and is safe to send. 

 

He was worried about contamination and thought the test kits should be sealed more effectively.

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Age at interview: 61
Sex: Male
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And then you had to put it in the post, how did you feel about putting it in the post?

I thought that without having some form of seal over it, it was a little bit dodgy and I thought it was risky to send a toilet sample through the post, not in a sealed container. I did think that the sampling wallet with the little stick down windows could have been more secure from a health contamination point of view.

Perhaps there could be a peel off label or something to seal the window down securely rather than a little tuck in flap. It doesn't strike me as being good hygiene.

Did that worry you at the time?

From the point of view of general health and the fact there must be thousands of these things going through the post, yes, because bacteria have no regard to a piece of paper and sticky tape over the end. It should be sealed more effectively than it is I think, bearing in mind that the laboratory technician has to open it, but there could be some method of sealing it down a bit more securely I think.

 

She didn't like the idea of sending samples through the post.

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Age at interview: 68
Sex: Female
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How did you feel about putting it in the post?

Well, I mean it was no problem, I just put in the post, and then I thought, 'Oh I wonder if the postmen know what they are handling? Perhaps they don't'.

How did you feel about that?

Not very nice really is it?

Could that have deterred you from doing it do you think?

It could, Oh well I don't know. I think it perhaps would have been better if it could have been taken to a clinic or a doctor's, and they [the test kits] could have been sent off in bulk.

 

Initially he thought it might be unlawful to put faeces in the post, but soon saw that the...

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Age at interview: 65
Sex: Male
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How did you feel about putting it in the post?

Well, initially I thought I'm sure there must be some law against putting this kind of thing in the post. Then I thought, 'Well don't be foolish, it's obviously done the best way it can.' But because the sample is clearly secured, not only within itself, but it then goes into an envelope which is the most secure envelope I've ever come across, there was no way that anybody anywhere could've known what was inside there. I mean when they said they were going to send me a kit, I don't know why, I was thinking of a cardboard box. But its not, it's just an envelope sized thing. It's as simple as that, its goes in an envelope, not even A5 size, much smaller than that, flat. Nobody would know, or have the faintest idea what was in there.


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Last reviewed May 2016.

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