Do Australian family physicians screen smokers for lung cancer?

Chest. 1999 Mar;115(3):725-8. doi: 10.1378/chest.115.3.725.


Study objectives: To determine family physicians' perceptions of the effectiveness of chest radiographs (CXRs) in reducing premature mortality from lung cancer and their self-reported levels of screening asymptomatic heavy smokers.

Design: National postal survey of 1,271 family physicians, obtaining 855 completed questionnaires (67% response rate).

Setting and participants: Random sample of Australian family physicians.

Measurements and results: One in five (n = 169, 20%) indicated that an annual CXR was an effective screening test. Older physicians were significantly more likely to hold this view (p < 0.0001). Nearly 25% (n = 190, 22.5%) reported that they recommend an annual CXR as a screening test for asymptomatic heavy smokers. Three variables independently predicted such a practice: increasing physician age (p = 0.0085), being in solo practice (p = 0.0068), and the aforementioned belief in its effectiveness (p < 0.0001).

Conclusions: A substantial minority of family physicians recommends an annual CXR as a screening test despite contradictory evidence from randomized controlled trials. These significant variations in the absence of epidemiologic evidence invite further research to develop effective, efficient, and affordable preventive care in family practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Australia
  • Family Practice / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Mass Screening*
  • Radiography
  • Smoking*