Proactive cancer care in primary care: a mixed-methods study

Fam Pract. 2013 Jun;30(3):302-12. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cms085. Epub 2013 Feb 4.


Background: Current models of post-treatment cancer care are based on traditional practices and clinician preference rather than evidence of benefit.

Objectives: To assess the feasibility of using a structured template to provide holistic follow-up of patients in primary care from cancer diagnosis onwards.

Methods: A two-phase mixed methods action research project. An electronic cancer ongoing review document (CORD) was first developed with patients and general practitioners, and used with patients with a new diagnosis of cancer. This was evaluated through documentary analysis of the CORDs, qualitative interviews with patients, family carers and health professionals and record reviews.

Results: The records of 107 patients from 13 primary care teams were examined and 45 interviews conducted. The document was started in 54% of people with newly diagnosed cancer, and prompted clear documentation of multidimension needs and understanding. General practitioners found using the document helped to structure consultations and cover psychosocial areas, but they reported it needed to be better integrated in their medical records with computerized prompts in place. Few clinicians discussed the review openly with patients, and the template was often completed afterwards.

Conclusions: Anticipatory cancer care from diagnosis to cure or death, 'in primary care', is feasible in the U.K. and acceptable to patients, although there are barriers. The process promoted continuity of care and holism. A reliable system for proactive cancer care in general practice supported by hospital specialists may allow more survivorship care to be delivered in primary care, as in other long-term conditions.

Keywords: Cancer care; chronic disease management; palliative care; primary care; user involvement..

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Caregivers
  • Continuity of Patient Care / organization & administration*
  • Family Practice / methods*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Patient Participation / methods*
  • Primary Health Care / methods*