Journal of Cancer Education

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 136–141 | Cite as

The Role of General Practitioners in Cancer Care: A Mixed Method Design

  • Kadri SuijaEmail author
  • Tanel Kordemets
  • Kadi Annuk
  • Ruth Kalda


The aims of this study were to identify the current role of general practitioners (GP) and the unmet needs of cancer patients in primary care. First, we conducted individual interviews with 10 cancer patients. Next, we developed a questionnaire, which was distributed among cancer patients across Estonia. Altogether, 113 questionnaires were returned. We observed that while the patients were satisfied with their GP’s work, they mostly preferred to discuss cancer-related problems with oncologists. The role of GPs in regard to other diseases was perceived as very important, also patients found it relevant to consult all investigations with their primary health care physician. The main problems experienced by the patients were a lack of proper accessible information about their disease and its inadequate presentation by doctors, as well as problems with coordination between primary and secondary health care providers. In conclusion, we can say that even treatment of cancer is centralised to oncology clinics, patients also contact their GPs during cancer care. Therefore, GPs should be aware of patients’ general health and comorbid medical problems. Better communication between primary and secondary health care doctors as well as more integration of GPs in cancer care is needed.


Primary health care Family practise General practitioners Cancer care Patient education Continuity of care Managed care 



The authors express their gratitude to the interviewed patients and to the family doctors for collaboration.

This study was financially supported by the Estonian Science Foundation (grant no. 7596) and by targeted financing (TARPO 0821).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest. The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of the paper.


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Copyright information

© American Association for Cancer Education 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kadri Suija
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tanel Kordemets
    • 1
  • Kadi Annuk
    • 1
  • Ruth Kalda
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Family MedicineUniversity of TartuTartuEstonia

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