The findings coincide with a DoH initiative to create directed enhanced service (DES) for all GPs in England to improve data recording for black and ethnic groups.
A randomly selected sample of 400,000 patients were asked if they had participated in cancer screening programmes between 1985 and 2005.
The researchers used name recognition software, refined to 97 per cent accuracy, to identify ethnic groups amongst the population sample.
Statistical methods were also used to eliminate other risk factors that could influence screening uptake such as socio-economic status.
One in three south Asians participated in bowel screening compared with two in three for the non-Asian community. However, for the Muslim community this figure fell to only one in four.
The researchers suggest that poor quality recording of ethnicity in medical records and difficulties in understanding how to do the test for bowel cancer, which is undertaken at home, could influence uptake.
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