Activity data

Activity data—that is, data on the number of invitations sent out and number of completed test kits returned to the NBCSP—is updated quarterly. Activity is a measure of events that occurred in a given period (quarter), and differs from participation, which measures the percentage of unique people invited, who returned a completed screening test within the relevant 2-year period or by 30 June of the following year. Activity data provides insight into recent trends and seasonal variation, as the data are able to be collected and published more quickly. Because of its ability to provide a more ‘real time’ picture of the program, activity data may also allow the effects of promotion or advertising campaigns to be seen more readily than longer reporting periods.

The following visualisation includes data between 1 January 2014 and 30 September 2019. Each quarter covers 3 months of the year and is identified with reference to the last month in the quarter (for example, the March quarter comprises January, February, and March).

The increased number of NBCSP invites and kits returned between the March quarter 2014 and the September quarter 2019 reflects the staged roll-out of the NBCSP after ongoing funding was announced in July 2011. Over subsequent years additional age groups were invited to screen, and the program was fully rolled out, (with all age groups included) from 1 January, 2019. Please see NBCSP age groups invited by year section of the Technical notes for a summary of the age groups invited in different years.


Over the period between the March quarter 2014 and the September quarter 2019 the number of invites:

  • has fluctuated across quarters and years but risen overall from 354,000 to 891,000
  • were roughly equal among men and women within each quarter, and across all quarters
  • was lowest in the December quarter for 2014, 2016, and 2018, the September quarter in 2015 and the March quarter in 2017 and 2019. Lower numbers of invites during hotter times of the year may reflect the NBCSP Hot-zone policy (Department of Health 2017), where in some locations invitations are scheduled to be sent in cooler times of the year. This affects some locations, across Australia more than others.

NBCSP completed kits returned

The number of completed kits returned for analysis between the March quarter 2014 and the September quarter 2019:

  • rose over the period from 105,000 to 420,000
  • were highest in either the June or September quarter each year
  • were higher for women than men across all quarters between the March quarter 2014 and the September quarter 2019.


Department of Health 2017. National Bowel Cancer Screening Program policy framework. Phase four (2015–2020), November. Canberra: Department of Health. Viewed 14 October 2019.