Towards Integrating Primary Care with Cancer Care: A Regional Study of Current Gaps and Opportunities in Canada
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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Better integration between cancer care systems and primary care physicians (PCPs) is a goal of most healthcare systems, but little direction exists on how this can be achieved. This study systematically examined the extent of integration between PCPs and a regional cancer program (RCP) to identify opportunities for improvement. METHOD: Cross-sectional survey of all practising PCPs in the region of interest using a study-specific instrument based on a three-tier conceptualization of integration. RESULTS: Among the 473 PCPs who responded (63% response rate), perceived role clarity and the desire for greater involvement in patient care varied across the care trajectory. Specific gaps were identified in PCPs' understanding of the referral process and patient follow-up after treatment. CONCLUSION: Our novel survey of PCPs explicated the strategies that could improve their integration in cancer care, including mechanisms to support PCPs in the initial diagnosis of their patients and standardized post-treatment transition plans outlining care roles and responsibilities.
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