Abstract

Background: Alongside specialist cancer clinics, general practitioners have an important role in cancer patients’ follow-up care, yet no literature summarises the nature, extent and impact of their involvement. This paper addresses this issue through a review of the literature.

Methods: Studies were sourced from six academic databases - AustHealth (n = 202), CINAHL (n = 500), the Cochrane Library (reviews and trials; n = 200), Embase (n = 368), PHCRIS (n = 132) and PubMed/Medline (n = 410). Studies that focused on interventions designed for patients receiving follow-up care and reported cancer care provided by a general practitioner delivered alongside specialist care were reviewed.

Results: A total of 19 papers were identified as relevant for this review (3 randomised control trials; 4 cross-sectional, 5 cohort and 3 qualitative studies, and 3 systematic reviews). The reviewed studies indicated that providing general practitioner-led supportive interventions for post-treatment care of cancer patients is feasible and acceptable to patients. General practitioner involvement resulted in improved physical and psychosocial well-being of patients and continuity of care, especially for patients with concomitant health conditions.

Conclusion: Involving general practitioners in post-treatment cancer care is beneficial to patients. However, proactive initiatives that encourage and facilitate patients to consult their general practitioner about their needs or symptoms of recurrence should be considered.

Keywords

cancer, primary health care, follow-up care, supportive care, integrated care

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