Influences of rurality on action to diagnose cancer by primary care practitioners – Results from a Europe-wide survey in 20 countries

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  • Peter Murchie, University of Aberdeen
  • ,
  • Wei Lynn Khor, University of Aberdeen
  • ,
  • Rosalind Adam, University of Aberdeen
  • ,
  • Magdalena Esteva, Carlos III Institute of Health (RedIAPP-RETICS)
  • ,
  • Emmanouil Smyrnakis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
  • ,
  • Davorina Petek, University of Ljubljana
  • ,
  • Hans Thulesius, Linnaeus University
  • ,
  • Peter Vedsted
  • David McLernon, University of Aberdeen
  • ,
  • Michael Harris, University of Bern, University of Bath

Background: Rural-dwellers have poorer cancer outcomes than urban counterparts, for reasons which are unclear. At healthcare institution level, poorer access to investigations and different clinical decision-making by rural primary healthcare practitioners (PCPs) could be important. Aim: To compare access to investigations, attitudes to cancer diagnosis and clinical decision-making between rural and urban PCPs. Setting: A vignette-based cross-sectional survey of rural and urban PCPs in 20 European countries. Methods: Data on PCPs’ decision-making and attitudes to cancer diagnosis were based on clinical scenarios. Comparisons were made using tests of proportion, univariable and multivariable binary logistic regression. Results: Of the 1779 PCPs completing the survey 541 30.4 %) practiced rurally. Rural PCPs had significantly less direct access to all investigative modalities: ultrasound; endoscopy; x-ray and advanced screening (all p < 0.001). Rural PCPs were as likely as urban PCPs to take diagnostic action (investigation and/or referral) at the index consultation in all four clinical vignettes ((OR, 95 % CI) for lung: 0.90, 0.72–1.12; ovarian: 0.95, 0.75–1.19; breast: 0.87, 0.69–1.09; colorectal: 0.98, 0.75–1.30). Rural PCPs were less likely to refer to a specialist at the index consultation for ovarian cancer (OR 0.71 95 % CI 0.51-0.99). Rural PCPs were significantly more likely to report that their patients faced barriers to accessing specialist care, but practitioners did not report greater difficulties making specialist referral than their urban counterparts Conclusions: European rural PCPs report poorer access to investigations but are at least as likely as urban PCPs to investigate or refer patients that might have cancer at the index consultation.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummer101698
TidsskriftCancer epidemiology
Vol/bind65
ISSN1877-7821
DOI
StatusUdgivet - apr. 2020

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