TURNING THE CORNER: A MIXED METHODS INVESTIGATION INTO THE RADIOTHERAPY INFORMATION NEEDS OF GPS
Normand, K. (2017) TURNING THE CORNER: A MIXED METHODS INVESTIGATION INTO THE RADIOTHERAPY INFORMATION NEEDS OF GPS, no. 133.
Background: NHS cancer strategy emphasises delivery of integrated care across primary and secondary environments. However, previous studies highlight a radiotherapy knowledge gap amongst GPs. Aims: To identify the radiotherapy information needs of GPs and explore how these needs can best be met by a large regional cancer centre. Methods: A 10-item questionnaire developed by the researcher was distributed via email to all 123 practice managers in a single health board. A subsequent email to practice managers was used to recruit volunteers for semi-structured interviews to add depth and detail to questionnaire findings. Results: 93 valid questionnaires were received in the four week data collection period. Although 95% had cared for a patient undergoing radiotherapy, only 4% agreed that radiotherapy information was easy to access. Confidence in indications for emergency radiotherapy (65%) and indications for palliative radiotherapy (64%) were highest, while confidence in how radiotherapy interacts with other treatments (2%) and in managing acute side effects beyond skin reactions (14%) were lowest. 70% of GPs reported having radiotherapy education, and this was correlated with confidence in explaining radiotherapy (p= 0.013), discussing long-term side effects (p= 0.036) and indications for palliative radiotherapy (p=0.02). GPs emphasised a preference for easily accessible electronic information, and suggested the addition of radiotherapy information to an existing platform. However, they also emphasised a perceived division between specialist and primary care. Conclusion: The integrated care outlined in NHS cancer strategy is challenged in practice by lack of knowledge and an underlying perception among GPs of fragmentation of care. This affects patients and should be addressed as a matter of priority both with straightforward electronic information provision and more complex strategic interventions.