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MINI 36 - Imaging and Diagnostic Workup (ID 163)
- Event: WCLC 2015
- Type: Mini Oral
- Track: Screening and Early Detection
- Presentations: 1
MINI36.14 - Improving Pathways to Early Lung Cancer Diagnosis: Process Mapping and Qualitative Analysis (ID 746)
18:30 - 20:00 | Author(s): J. Young
Lung cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to diagnose in primary care settings. Lung symptomatology alone is a poor indicator of likelihood of diagnosis and in Australia, most primary care practitioners (general practitioners, GPs) will see only one or two lung cancer cases annually. Early diagnosis leads to improved survival with 5-year lung cancer survival much higher in localised disease (30% versus 16% overall). Australia has a mixed public-private model of health services and referral pathways from primary to secondary and tertiary services are based on traditional or informal networks resulting in wide variations in practices. This presentation will report results from diagnostic pathway mapping in lung cancer across three multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) to inform future intervention strategies to reduce variation and improve patient outcomes.
We conducted process-mapping workshops with each team to identify the barriers to delivering diagnostic and treatment services. We also developed qualitative interview schedules for GPs and patients. We recruited participants through multiple strategies (mail out, personal invitation from the clinical champion) with local ethics approval.
Forty-six lung cancer clinicians and four consumers participated in process mapping workshops across three sites. The resulting process maps highlight health system delays and complexities for patients navigating health services, particularly for those living in regional and rural areas. The provision of specialist services for lung cancer diagnosis varies significantly geographically with potential for patients to be lost to follow up. Twelve GPs completed in-depth qualitative interviews or participated in a focus group to identify barriers and enablers in diagnostic pathways. Qualitative analysis reveals that GPs need tailored information about appropriate referrals to specialist pulmonologists or oncologists at the time of a suspicious lung cancer. For GPs without established referral networks, there can be significant uncertainty about the most appropriate referral pathways. Analysis from qualitative interviews with 20 lung cancer patients and their carers indicates that they perceive their GP as having an advocacy role in coordinating their care across specialists’ appointments and diagnostic investigations. Patients reported that personal contact and networking across clinicians in primary, secondary and tertiary settings was a significant factor in the timeliness of investigations or being referred for treatment. In particular, the urgency or severity of symptoms significantly impacted timeliness in securing appointments for investigative diagnostic tests. Patients reported that GPs willing to coordinate their care played an enabling or facilitating role in their care pathway.
This collaborative project between clinicians and researchers has identified significant barriers and enablers in diagnostic pathways in lung cancer. Primary care practitioners play a significant role in managing patient care and require timely and tailored information about how to refer to a specialist who actively participates in a MDT. We have subsequently developed a protocol to implement a referral decision prompt at the time of CT investigation for those people with a suspicious lung lesion. This prompt will be directed at primary care practitioners and we are currently undertaking a pilot study to examine its feasibility and acceptability.
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