Patient and practitioner views on cancer risk discussions in primary care: a qualitative study

Blane, D. N. , Macdonald, S. and O'Donnell, C. A. (2022) Patient and practitioner views on cancer risk discussions in primary care: a qualitative study. BJGP Open, 6(1), BJGPO.2021.0108. (doi: 10.3399/BJGPO.2021.0108) (PMID:34645652)

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Background: It is estimated that nearly 600,000 cancer cases in the UK could have been avoided in the last five years if people had healthier lifestyles, with the principle modifiable risk factors being smoking, obesity, alcohol consumption and inactivity. There is growing interest in the use of cancer risk information in general practice to encourage lifestyle modification. Aim: To explore the views and experiences of patients and practitioners in relation to cancer prevention and cancer risk discussions in general practice. Design and setting: Qualitative study among patient and practitioners in general practices in Glasgow, UK. Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine practitioners (5 GPs and four practice nurses, recruited purposively from practices based on list size and deprivation status) and 13 patients (aged 30–60, with two or more specified co-morbidities). Results: Currently, cancer risk discussions focus on smoking and cancer, with links between alcohol/obesity and cancer rarely made. There was support for the use of the personalised cancer risk tool as an additional resource in primary care. Practitioners felt practice nurses were best placed to use it. Use in planned appointments (eg, chronic disease reviews) was preferred over opportunistic use. Concerns were expressed, however, about generating anxiety, time constraints, and widening inequalities. Conclusions: Health behaviour change is complex and the provision of information alone is unlikely to have significant effects. Personalised risk tools may have a role, but important concerns about their use – particularly in areas of socio-economic disadvantage – remain.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This research was funded by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Scientific Foundation Board (SFB 2017-30).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:O'Donnell, Professor Kate and Blane, Dr David and Macdonald, Professor Sara
Authors: Blane, D. N., Macdonald, S., and O'Donnell, C. A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > General Practice and Primary Care
Journal Name:BJGP Open
Publisher:Royal College of General Practitioners
ISSN (Online):2398-3795
Published Online:13 October 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Author(s)
First Published:First published in BJGP Open 6(1): 10.3399/BJGPO.2021.0108
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons Licence

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