Researchers have revealed through an extended analysis of survey data from over 70,000 cancer patients that those who have had to visit their GPs more than three times before they were referred for cancer tests were more likely to be dissatisfied with the overall care.
The analysis was carried out by Cancer Research UK scientists at UCL (University College London) and the University of Cambridge wherein it was highlighted that the time it takes to refer patients is eroding confidence in the doctors and nurses who go on to treat and monitor them.
The analysis revealed that of the nearly 60,000 survey respondents diagnosed through their GP, over 13,200 (23 per cent) had to visit their GPs three or more times before they were referred for cancer tests. Out of these late referred patients, 39 per cent were dissatisfied with the support they received from their GP and nurses compared to 28 per cent of those referred after one or two GP visits.
The analysis also found that patients who had seen their GP three or more times before being referred were more likely to report negative experiences across 10 of 12 different aspects of their care. This included dissatisfaction with the way they were told they had cancer; and dissatisfaction with how hospital staff and GPs had worked with each other to provide the best possible care.
Patients also believed information may have been deliberately withheld from them during treatment, while there were instances wherein patients lacked confidence and trust in the ward nurses.
Study author Dr Georgios Lyratzopoulos, a Cancer Research UK scientist at UCL (University College London), said the research shows how first impressions matter in determining how cancer patients view their experience of cancer treatment.
“A negative experience of diagnosis can trigger loss of confidence in their care throughout the cancer journey.”
The findings have been published in the European Journal of Cancer Care.