Background: In May 2003, a survey questionnaire was distributed to all licensed primary care physicians in Newfoundland and Labrador. The objective was to examine the attitudes, self-reported practices, and continuing medical education (CME) preferences of primary care physicians as they pertain to prostate cancer screening.
Methods: Data was obtained from 485 primary care physicians using self-reports of prostate cancer screening practices, attitudes towards prostate cancer screening, and CME preferences. Respondents' characteristics were also collected (eg, gender, years of experience).
Results: A majority of respondents screen asymptomatic male patients for prostate cancer. Screening behaviour was related to high volume practice settings, fee-for-service and increased with patient age. Most common reasons for screening were family history, age of patient, and patient request. Majority of physicians agreed that prostate screening should be routinely performed on all men beginning at age 50, however half of physicians believe there is lack of evidence to support digital rectal examination (DRE) and one-third of physicians do not believe the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) nor DRE are accurate screening tests. Areas of greatest interest for CME included topics related to prostate cancer screening effectiveness, strategies for prevention, sexual dysfunction, available treatments and their side effects, and management options.
Conclusion: Physicians are supportive of the value of screening, however the reliability of and evidence to support DRE and PSA as prostate cancer screening tests are in question. CME which addresses issues surrounding prostate screening and areas related to patient education and counselling are of greatest need.