Barriers and facilitators to implementing a cancer risk assessment tool (QCancer) in primary care: a qualitative study

Aim:We aimed to explore service users’ and primary care practitioners’ perspectives on the barriers and facilitators to implementing a cancer risk assessment tool (RAT), QCancer, in general practice consultations.

Background:Cancer RATs, including QCancer, are designed to estimate the chances of previously undiagnosed cancer in symptomatic individuals. Little is known about the barriers and facilitators to implementing cancer RATs in primary care consultations.

Methods:We used a qualitative design, conducting semi-structured individual interviews and focus groups with a convenience sample of service users and primary care practitioners.

Findings:In all, 36 participants (19 service users, 17 practitioners) living in Lincolnshire, were included in the interviews and focus groups. Before asking for their views, participants were introduced to QCancer and shown an example of how it estimated cancer risk. Participants identified barriers to implementing the tool namely: additional consultation time; unnecessary worry; potential for over-referral; practitioner scepticism; need for training on use of the tool; need for evidence of effectiveness; and need to integrate the tool in general practice systems. Participants also identified facilitators to implementing the tool as: supporting decision-making; modifying health behaviours; improving speed of referral; and personalising care.

Conclusions:

The barriers and facilitators identified should be considered when seeking to implement QCancer in primary care. In addition, further evidence is needed that the use of this tool improves diagnosis rates without an unacceptable increase in harm from unnecessary investigation.


Univer sity of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research

Joseph N.A. Akanuwe, University of Lincoln, School of Health and Social Care

Sharon Black, University of Lincoln, School of Health and Social Care

Sara Owen, Nottingham Trent University

Niro Siriwardena, University of Lincoln, School of Health and Social Care