BACKGROUND: Current guidelines recommend that colonoscopic colorectal cancer screening be undertaken every 10 years after the age of 50 years. However, because the procedure does not meet criteria that promote screening uptake, patient satisfaction with colonoscopy may encourage repeat screening.OBJECTIVE: To systematically review the literature and conduct a pilot study of patient satisfaction with the colonoscopy experience.METHODS: All cohort studies from January 1997 to August 2008 in the MEDLINE database that measured either patient satisfaction with colonoscopy, patient willingness to return for colonoscopy under the same conditions or patient preference for colonoscopy compared with other large bowel procedures were identified. The search was supplemented by journal citation lists in the retrieved articles.RESULTS: Of the 29 studies identified, 15 met the inclusion criteria. Consistently, the vast majority of patients (approximately 95%) were very satisfied with their colonoscopy experience. Patient satisfaction was similar for screening and nonscreening colonoscopy. Patient willingness to return for the procedure ranged from 73% to 100%. Of the five studies that examined modality preference, three studies reported the majority of patients preferred colonography to colonoscopy and two studies reported the reverse. Our pilot study findings mirrored those of other studies that were conducted in the United States. The major limitation of the included studies was that patients who were most dissatisfied may have gone elsewhere to have their colonoscopy.CONCLUSIONS: Patients were very satisfied with colonoscopy. The majority were willing to return for repeat testing under the same conditions, and colonoscopy was not preferred over other modalities. However, studies were limited by methodological shortcomings.