Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer and the second major cause of cancer deaths in the UK. Research suggests that the risk of death from bowel cancer can be reduced by 16% through regular screening. An initial scientific literature review shows little research in this area. Previous studies identify non-attendance and low uptake as a major challenge and suggest that these factors could be affected by literacy level, fear, and anxiety. However, many of these studies were undertaken in other locations and countries, limiting replication or generalisation in the UK. There is therefore a need for qualitative investigation into the reasons and motives for low uptake. We explored reasons for participation and non-participation in the NHS bowel cancer screening programme, which requires participants to undertake a faecal occult blood test. We aimed to develop an understanding of behaviour regarding bowel cancer and the screening process; explore how people make sense of information gathered and how this influences their decisions; and describe similarities and differences regarding different groups’ perceptions of bowel cancer screening.