Communication between family physicians and oncologists



Title Communication between family physicians and oncologists: qualitative results of an exploratory study
Author(s) M. Dworkind, A. Towers, Donna A. Murnaghan, R. Guibert, D. Iverson
Journal Cancer Prevention & Control
Date 1999
Volume 3
Start page 137
End page 144
Abstract OBJECTIVE: To study communication between family physicians (FPs) and oncologists, and to look at the factors that may influence FP involvement in cancer care. DESIGN: This survey design uses a qualitative methodology, where the data are analyzed using a modified grounded theory approach. SETTING: This was a multisite study using 14 focus groups of FPs, followed by structured telephone interviews with 116 FPs in 6 different Canadian provinces. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Interview questions were used to explore the actual and desired roles of FPs in cancer care, and the quality of communication with oncologists with reference to a particular cancer patient in the FPs' practice. RESULTS: Physicians providing cancer care must consider complex psychosocial and biomedical factors, more so than with other chronic diseases, and so written communication alone is inadequate. Family physicians require face-to-face and/or telephone communication with the oncologist to negotiate their respective roles, and to discuss the patient's prognosis and the effectiveness of proposed treatments. Family physicians expressed a desire to become more involved in all stages of cancer care in both the biomedical and psychosocial aspects, and to help better define their roles throughout the illness trajectory. CONCLUSION: These results suggest opportunities to improve the communication, coordination and comprehensiveness of shared cancer care provided by family physicians and oncologists in different clinical settings.

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