Priorities for improvement across cancer and non-cancer related preventive services among rural and non-rural clinicians

BMC Prim Care. 2022 Sep 9;23(1):231. doi: 10.1186/s12875-022-01845-1.


Introduction: It is not realistic for most clinicians to perform the multitude of recommended preventive primary care services. This is especially true in low resource and rural settings, creating challenges to delivering high-quality care. This study collected stakeholder input from clinicians on which services they most need to improve.

Methods: The authors conducted a survey of primary care physicians 9-12/2021, with an emphasis on rural practices, to assess areas in which clinicians felt the greatest needs for improvement. The survey focused on primary prevention (behavior change counseling) and cancer screening, and contrasted needs for improvement for these services vs. other types of screening, and between clinicians in rural vs. non-rural practices.

Results: There were 326 respondents from 4 different practice-based research networks, a wide range of practice types, 49 states and included 177 clinicians in rural settings. Respondents rated the need to improve delivery of primary prevention counseling services highest, with needs for nutrition and dietary assessment and counseling rated highest followed by physical activity and with almost no differences between rural and nonrural. Needs for improvement in cancer screenings were rated higher than non-cancer screenings, except for blood pressure screening.

Conclusions: Both rural and nonrural primary care clinicians feel a need for improvement, especially with primary prevention activities. Although future research is needed to replicate these findings with different populations and other types of preventive service activities, greater priority should be given to development of practical, stakeholder informed assistance and resources for primary care to conduct primary prevention.

Keywords: Cancer prevention and control; Need for improvement; Primary care; Rural; Screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Counseling
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Preventive Health Services*
  • Rural Population
  • Surveys and Questionnaires