Background and objectives: There has been little research describing the role of family physicians in the care of patients with an active diagnosis of cancer.
Methods: Using qualitative methods, we interviewed 15 family physicians and 15 of their cancer patients. We asked physicians about care of cancer patients in general and of the specific patient included in this study. Patient interviews focused on the role their family physician played in their care and their satisfactions and frustrations with that care.
Results: The physicians reported coordinating referrals, providing general medical care, helping with decisions, and providing emotional support. Their involvement was more intense at the time of diagnosis and near death. The patients gave similar responses and also said they valued clear explanations and spending time with and feeling comfortable with their family physicians.
Conclusions: Family physicians fulfill a number of important roles in caring for their patients with an active diagnosis of cancer. More research using representative samples is needed to determine the generalizability of these findings, but this study gives us some preliminary insight into the role family physicians play in cancer care.