Journal of Cancer Education

, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 1255–1262 | Cite as

Identifying Primary Care Physicians Continuing Education Needs by Examining Clinical Practices, Attitudes, and Barriers to Screening Across Multiple Cancers

  • Brenna Lynn
  • Alexandra Hatry
  • Chloe Burnett
  • Lisa Kan
  • Tunde Olatunbosun
  • Bob Bluman


Population-based cancer screening for cervical, breast, and colorectal cancers improves patient outcomes, yet screening rates remain low for some cancers. Despite studies investigating physician perceptions and practices for screening, many have focused on individual cancers and lack primary care physicians’ (PCPs) realities around screening for multiple cancers. We surveyed 887 PCPs in British Columbia (BC) to examine practices, beliefs, barriers, and learning needs towards cancer screening across breast, cervical, colorectal, prostate, as well as hereditary predisposition to cancer. Survey results identified differences in PCPs belief in the benefit of screening for recommended and non-recommended routine cancer screening, PCPs adherence to screening guidelines for some cancers and physician comfort and patient testing requests related to physician gender for gender sensitive tests. Further, across cancers, screening barriers included patients with multiple health concerns (41%), limited time to discuss screening (36%), and lack of physician financial compensation to discuss screening (23%). The study highlighted the need for more physician education on screening programs, referral criteria, follow-up processes, and screening guidelines. Conferences (73%), self-directed (46%), small group workshops (42%), hospital rounds (41%), and online CME/CPD (39%) were highly preferred (4+5) for learning about cancer screening. The results suggest a need to improve awareness and adherence to screening guidelines and recommended practices, as well as to provide educational opportunities which address knowledge and practice gaps for physicians.


Cancer Screening Primary care physicians Needs assessment CME effectiveness 


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Copyright information

© American Association for Cancer Education 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Continuing Professional Development, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Continuing Medical Education and Professional Development, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  3. 3.Screening Program, BC Cancer AgencyVancouverCanada

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