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The role of the GP in follow-up cancer care: a systematic literature review

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of the present study is to explore the role of the general practitioners, family physicians and primary care physicians (GP) in the provision of follow-up cancer care.

Methods

PubMed, MEDLINE and CINAHL were systematically searched for primary research focussing on the role of the GP from the perspective of GPs and patients. Data were extracted using a standardised form and synthesised using a qualitative descriptive approach.

Results

The initial search generated 6487 articles: 25 quantitative and 33 qualitative articles were included. Articles focused on patients’ and GPs’ perspectives of the GP role in follow-up cancer care. Some studies reported on the current role of the GP, barriers and enablers to GP involvement from the perspective of the GP and suggestions for future GP roles. Variations in guidelines and practice of follow-up cancer care in the primary health care sector exist. However, GPs and patients across the included studies supported a greater GP role in follow-up cancer care. This included greater support for care coordination, screening, diagnosis and management of physical and psychological effects of cancer and its treatment, symptom and pain relief, health promotion, palliative care and continuing normal general health care provision.

Conclusion

While there are variations in guidelines and practice of follow-up cancer care in the primary health care sector, GPs and patients across the reviewed studies supported a greater role by the GP.

Implications for Cancer Survivors

Greater GP role in cancer care could improve the quality of patient care for cancer survivors. Better communication between the tertiary sector and GP across the cancer phases would enable clear delineation of roles.

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Contributions

JAM and AM independently reviewed all manuscripts, and PCV and JHM adjudicated disagreements. JAM was responsible for data acquisition and takes responsibility for the integrity and the accuracy of the data. JAM drafted the manuscript, and all authors read and contributed to editing the manuscript for final submission.

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Correspondence to Judith A. Meiklejohn.

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Funding

This work was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (project no. 1044433). PCV was supported by an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (Career Development Fellowship no. 1083090). Ross Bailie’s work is supported by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (100100087). JA was supported by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (no. FT140100195). There are no financial disclosures.

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The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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Meiklejohn, J.A., Mimery, A., Martin, J.H. et al. The role of the GP in follow-up cancer care: a systematic literature review. J Cancer Surviv 10, 990–1011 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11764-016-0545-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11764-016-0545-4

Keywords

  • Cancer
  • Role
  • General practitioner
  • Primary health
  • Follow-up