General practitioners’ experience of using a questionnaire when assessing cancer patients’ needs: a qualitative study

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Abstract

Background.

International guidelines recommend health care professionals to use supportive tools like questionnaires when assessing cancer patients’ needs. Little is known about GPs’ perspectives and experience in this regard.

Objective.

To examine how GPs experience to involve a short questionnaire, completed by patients’ prior to a consultation, when addressing the patients’ problems and needs. The aim is to contribute to the knowledge concerning the use of questionnaires as part of clinical cancer care in general practice.

Methods.

Semi-structured individual interviews with 11 GPs in the Region of Southern Denmark purposefully sampled with regard to gender, years working in general practice and practice form. Interviews were analyzed using systematic text condensation.

Results.

Most GPs found that using the questionnaire provided a supportive structure to the consultation. The questionnaire helped to bring forward issues of importance to the patients, which might otherwise not have been mentioned and enhanced a patient-centered approach. A few GPs found the use of the questionnaire to be restraining, detracting focus from the patient and impede usual practice.

Conclusions.

This study shows that using questionnaires may have the potential to improve clinical cancer care in general practice in relation to needs assessment of cancer patients and the results support current recommendations.

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