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Correspondence between primary and secondary care about patients with cancer: A qualitative mixed-methods analysis

Stegmann, M. E., Meijer, J. M., Nuver, J., Havenga, K., Hiltermann, T. J. N., Maduro, J. H., Schuling, J. & Berendsen, A. J., Jan-2019, In : European journal of cancer care. 28, 1, 8 p., e12903.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Cancer care is complex and involves many different healthcare providers, especially during diagnosis and initial treatment, and it has been reported that both general practitioners and oncology specialists experience difficulties with interdisciplinary communication. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore information sharing between primary and secondary care for patients with lung, breast or colorectal cancer. A qualitative content analysis of 50 medical files (419 documents) was performed, which identified 70 correspondence-related items. Six main topics were identified in most referral letters from primary to secondary care, but it was particularly notable that highly relevant information regarding the past medical history was often mixed with less relevant information. To lesser extents, the same held true for the medication list and presenting history. In the letters from specialists, nine topics were identified in most letters. Although information about actual treatment was always present, only limited detail, if any, was given about the intent of the treatment (curative or palliative) or the treatment alternatives. Interviews with nine healthcare providers confirmed these issues. These findings indicate that neither the initial referral nor the specialist correspondence is tailored to the needs of the recipient.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12903
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean journal of cancer care
Volume28
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2019

    Keywords

  • cancer patients, correspondence, primary care-secondary care interface, qualitative design, referral letters, specialist letters, BREAST-CANCER, COMMUNICATION, INTERFACE, INFORMATION, CHALLENGES, STATISTICS, PHYSICIANS, DOCTORS

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