Disconnect between primary care and cancer follow-up care

Authors: Pati, Sanghamitra; Nayak, Sukdev; Weller, David

Objective: There has been a steady increase in the demand for cancer follow-up care in India. Compared with Western countries, there is little evidence on the capacity of the Indian primary care workforce to accommodate such tasks. We explored the perceptions of oncologists, general practitioners, and patients with regard to the involvement of primary care in cancer follow-up care.

Methods: We undertook semistructured focus-group discussions with eight oncologists, nine general practitioners, and 17 cancer patients to gain an understanding of their perceived roles and responsibilities with regard to primary care in delivering follow-up care and the potential concerns. Data from the focus groups were transcribed verbatim, translated, and analyzed with use of a thematic approach.

Results: Most general practitioners felt that their job is to see ‘normal’ patients, and cancer patients were exceptions to routine care. Oncologists were apprehensive with regard to the competence of general practitioners and patient trust. Patients consult oncologists for cancer follow-up care as they perceive it to be very specialized. Patients expressed difficulty in accessing follow-up care and want specialized oncological care by trained personnel in their vicinity.

Conclusion: Despite the growing number of cancer survivors, we found a disconnect between primary care and cancer follow-up care.

Keywords: India; Odisha; Primary care; cancer follow-up; general practitioner; qualitative perspectives

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15212/FMCH.2015.0137