Keeping primary care "in the loop": General practitioners want better communication with specialists and hospitals when caring for people diagnosed with cancer

Natalia Lizama, Claire E. Johnson, Manonita Ghosh, Neeraj Garg, Jonathan D. Emery, Christobel Saunders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: To investigate general practitioners' (GP) perceptions about communication when providing cancer care. Methods: A self-report survey, which included an open response section, was mailed to a random sample of 1969 eligible Australian GPs. Content analysis of open response comments pertaining to communication was undertaken in order to ascertain GPs' views about communication issues in the provision of cancer care. Results: Of the 648 GPs who completed the survey, 68 (10%) included open response comments about interprofessional communication. Participants who commented on communication were a median age of 50 years and worked 33 h/week; 28% were male and 59% practiced in the metropolitan area. Comments pertaining to communication were coded using five non-mutually exclusive categories: being kept in the loop; continuity of care; relationships with specialists; positive communication experiences; and strategies for improving communication.GPs repeatedly noted the importance of receiving detailed and timely communication from specialists and hospitals, particularly in relation to patients' treatment regimes and follow-up care. Several GPs remarked that they were left out of "the information loop" and that patients were "lost" or "dumped" after referral. Conclusion: While many GPs are currently involved in some aspects of cancer management, detailed and timely communication between specialists and GPs is imperative to support shared care and ensure optimal patient outcomes. This research highlights the need for established channels of communication between specialist and primary care medicine to support greater involvement by GPs in cancer care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-159
Number of pages8
JournalAsia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Communication
  • Delivery of health care
  • General practitioner
  • Interprofessional relations
  • Primary health care

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