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Unintended consequences of an 'all-clear' diagnosis for potential cancer symptoms: a nested qualitative interview study with primary care patients.

Renzi, C, Whitaker, KL, Winstanley, K, Cromme, S and Wardle, J (2016) Unintended consequences of an 'all-clear' diagnosis for potential cancer symptoms: a nested qualitative interview study with primary care patients. Br J Gen Pract.

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Nine out of 10 patients undergoing urgent cancer investigations receive an 'all-clear' diagnosis. AIM: A qualitative approach was used to evaluate the impact of investigations that did not result in cancer diagnosis on subsequent symptom attribution and help seeking for recurrent or new possible cancer symptoms. DESIGN AND SETTING: A survey of symptoms, help seeking, and past investigations was sent to 4913 individuals aged ≥50 years from four UK general practices. Of 2042 responders, 62 participants were recruited still reporting at least one cancer 'alarm' symptom in a 3-month follow-up survey for a nested in-depth interview study (ensuring variation in sociodemographic characteristics). METHOD: Framework analysis was used to examine the in-depth semi-structured interviews and identify themes related to previous health investigations. RESULTS: Interviewees were on average 65 years old, and 90% reported investigations within the previous 2 years. Most often they reported gastrointestinal, urinary, and respiratory symptoms, and 42% had waited ≥3 months before help seeking. Reassurance from a previous non-cancer diagnosis explained delays in help seeking even if symptoms persisted or new symptoms developed months or years later. Others were worried about appearing hypochondriacal or that they would not be taken seriously if they returned to the doctor. CONCLUSION: An all-clear diagnosis can influence help seeking for months or even years in case of new or recurrent alarm symptoms. Considering the increasing number of people undergoing investigations and receiving an all-clear, it is paramount to limit unintended consequences by providing appropriate information and support. Specific issues are identified that could be addressed.

Item Type: Article
Subjects : Health Sciences
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
Authors :
AuthorsEmailORCID
Renzi, CUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Whitaker, KLUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Winstanley, KUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Cromme, SUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Wardle, JUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date : 1 March 2016
Identification Number : 10.3399/bjgp16X683845
Copyright Disclaimer : © British Journal of General Practice 2016. This is an OpenAccess article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Uncontrolled Keywords : cancer, delay, diagnosis, diagnostic investigations, help seeking, symptoms
Related URLs :
Additional Information : © British Journal of General Practice 2016. This is an OpenAccess article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 02 Mar 2016 09:15
Last Modified : 02 Mar 2016 09:15
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/809970

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