Screening for colorectal cancer (CRC) has both advantages (e.g. reduction in morbidity and mortality) and disadvantages (e.g. false positives and distress). A systematic review was therefore performed to improve our understanding of how false-positive CRC screening results affect patients psychologically (and to make recommendations for primary care). The PubMed, Embase, PsychINFO, CINAHL and Cochrane databases were searched in October 2014 and supplemented in December 2016 to identify studies on the psychological impact of false-positive CRC screening. Original studies were eligible when they assessed psychological impact in a screening setting, provided they also included false-positive CRC screening results. Two authors independently assessed 2,367 available manuscripts and included seven. Heterogeneity in their outcome measures meant that data could not be pooled. Two studies showed that a false-positive CRC screening result caused some moderate psychological distress shortly before and after colonoscopy. The remaining five studies illustrated that the psychological distress of patients with true-positive and false-positive CRC screening results was comparable. We conclude that a false-positive CRC screening result may cause some moderate psychological distress, especially just before or after colonoscopy. We recommend that general practitioners mention this when discussing CRC screening with patients and monitor those with a false-positive outcome for psychological distress.