Longitudinal adherence to colorectal cancer (CRC) screening is reported using different summarizing measures, which hampers international comparison. We provide evidence to guide recommendations on which longitudinal adherence measure to report. Using adherence data over four stool-based CRC screening rounds in three countries, we calculated six summarizing adherence measures; adherence over all rounds, adherence per round, rescreening, full programme adherence (yes/no), regularity (never/inconsistent/consistent screenees) and number of times participated. For each measure, we calculated the accuracy in capturing the observed adherence patterns. Using the ASCCA model, we predicted screening effectiveness when using summarizing measures as model input versus the observed adherence patterns. Adherence over all rounds in the Italian, Spanish and Dutch cohorts was 64.9%, 42.8% and 61.5%, respectively, and the proportion of consistent screenees was 50.9%, 26.3% and 45.7%. Number of times participated and regularity were most accurate and resulted in similar model-predicted screening effectiveness as simulating the observed adherence patterns of Italy, Spain and the Netherlands (mortality reductions: 24.4%, 16.9% and 23.5%). Adherence over all rounds and adherence per round were least accurate. Screening effectiveness was overestimated when using adherence over all rounds (mortality reductions: 26.8%, 19.4% and 25.7%) and adherence per round (mortality reductions: 26.8%, 19.5% and 25.9%). To conclude, number of times participated and regularity were most accurate and resulted in similar model-predicted screening effectiveness as using the observed adherence patterns. However they require longitudinal data. To facilitate international comparison of CRC screening programme performance, consensus on an accurate adherence measure to report should be reached.