General Practitioners' perceptions of their role in cancer care and factors which influence this role

Mitchell, Geoffrey K., Burridge, Letitia H., Colquist, Shoni P. and Love, Alison (2012) General Practitioners' perceptions of their role in cancer care and factors which influence this role. Health and Social Care in the Community, 20 6: 607-616. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2524.2012.01075.x

Author Mitchell, Geoffrey K.
Burridge, Letitia H.
Colquist, Shoni P.
Love, Alison
Title General Practitioners' perceptions of their role in cancer care and factors which influence this role
Journal name Health and Social Care in the Community   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0966-0410
Publication date 2012-11
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2524.2012.01075.x
Volume 20
Issue 6
Start page 607
End page 616
Total pages 10
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Abstract Effective cancer care depends on inter-sectoral and inter-professional communication. General Practitioners (GPs) play a pivotal role in managing the health of most Australians, but their role in cancer care is unclear. This qualitative study explored GPs’ views of this role and factors influencing their engagement with cancer care. Twelve metropolitan and non-metropolitan GPs in Queensland, Australia, were recruited between April and May 2008, and three focus groups and one interview were conducted using open-ended questions. The transcripts were analysed thematically. The first theme, GPs’ perceptions of their role, comprised subthemes corresponding to four phases of the trajectory. The second theme, Enhancing GPs’ involvement in ongoing cancer care, comprised subthemes regarding enhanced communication and clarification of roles and expectations. GPs’ role in cancer care fluctuates between active advocacy during diagnosis and palliation, and ambivalent redundancy in between. The role is influenced by socioeconomic, clinical and geographical factors, patients’ expectations and GPs’ motivation. Not all participants wanted an enhanced role in cancer care, but all valued better specialist–GP communication. Role clarification is needed, together with greater mutual trust between GPs and specialists. Key needs included accessible competency training and mentoring for doctors unfamiliar with the system. Existing system barriers and workforce pressures in general practice must be addressed to improve the sharing of cancer care. Only one metropolitan focus group was conducted, so saturation of themes may not have been reached. The challenges of providing cancer care in busy metropolitan practices are multiplied in non-metropolitan settings with less accessible resources and where distance affects specialist communication. Non-metropolitan GPs learn from experience how to overcome referral and communication challenges. While the GPs identified solutions to their concerns, the role can be daunting. GPs are motivated to provide long-term care for their patients, but need to be acknowledged and supported by the health system.
Keyword Cancer
Care coordination
General practitioner
Multidisciplinary care
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Discipline of General Practice Publications
Official 2013 Collection
School of Medicine Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 10 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 12 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Fri, 05 Oct 2012, 11:13:22 EST by Shani Lamb on behalf of Discipline of General Practice