Objective: To investigate general practitioner (GP) assessment of a structured oncology information pack sent to GPs when newly referred patients had visited a department of oncology for the first time, and to compare their assessment of this material with their assessment of traditional information provided by the department.
Design: Randomised, unblinded clinical trial.
Setting: Patients and GPs in the catchment area of a regional oncology department.
Subjects/patients: 248 cancer patients and their 199 GPs.
Main outcome measures: GP assessment of the quality of the information material received for each patient.
Results: 88.3% of the 248 questionnaires were returned. The structured information pack improved GP knowledge of oncology; GPs found themselves better equipped to support and counsel patients during the course of their illness, and practitioner satisfaction with the department rose.
Conclusion: Intervention, though reasonably simple, inexpensive and not particularly time-consuming, improved cooperation between the specialist department and the GP. While this is a small step in the right direction, the need remains for new initiatives and further studies into how to improve cooperation and communication between the primary and secondary healthcare sectors.