General Practice - Research Publications

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    The SYMPTOM-upper gastrointestinal study: A mixed methods study exploring symptom appraisal and help-seeking in Australian upper gastrointestinal cancer patients
    Karnchanachari, N ; Milton, S ; Muhlen-Schulte, T ; Scarborough, R ; Holland, JF ; Walter, FM ; Zalcberg, J ; Emery, J (WILEY, 2022-05-06)
    OBJECTIVE: There is limited evidence on the development of pancreatic and oesophagogastric cancer, how patients decide to seek help and the factors impacting help-seeking. Our study, the first in Australia, aimed to explore symptom appraisal and diagnostic pathways in these patients. A secondary aim was to examine the potential to recruit cancer patients through a cancer quality registry. METHODS: Patients diagnosed with pancreatic or oesophagogastric cancer were recruited through Monash University's Upper-Gastrointestinal Cancer Registry. Data collected through general practitioners (GP) and patient questionnaires included symptoms and their onset, whereas patient interviews focused on the patient's decision-making in seeking help from healthcare pracitioners. Data collection and analysis was informed by the Aarhus statement. Coding was inductive, and themes were mapped onto the Model of Pathways to Treatment. RESULTS: Between November 2018 and March 2020, 27 patient questionnaires and 13 phone interviews were completed. Prior to diagnosis, patients lacked awareness of pancreatic and oesophagogastric cancer symptoms, leading to the normalisation, dismissal and misattribution of the symptoms. Patients initially self-managed symptoms, but worsening of symptoms and jaundice triggered help-seeking. Competing priorities, beliefs about illnesses and difficulties accessing healthcare delayed help-seeking. CONCLUSION: Increased awareness of insidious pancreatic and oesophagogastric cancer symptoms in patients and general practitioners may prompt more urgent investigations and lead to earlier diagnosis.
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    Lung cancer statistics in the United States: a reflection on the impact of cancer control
    Zhang, J ; Basu, P ; Emery, JD ; IJzerman, MJ ; Bray, F (AME Publishing Company, 2022-02-01)
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    Pre-diagnostic routes to colorectal cancer in Central New Zealand: factors that lead to emergency presentation and longer diagnostic intervals at primary and secondary level care
    Warren, M ; Emery, J ; Krishnasamy, M ; O'Donnell, A ; Gough, K (CSIRO PUBLISHING, 2022-01-01)
    Introduction Although international large-scale studies have investigated routes to diagnosis for colorectal cancer, there is limited information on how New Zealanders seek help for bowel symptoms across different pre-diagnostic routes. Aim To better understand pre-diagnostic routes for colorectal cancer, including the characteristics of patients and key events associated with each route. Methods This study was a retrospective audit of hospital administrative and medical records for 120 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of colorectal cancer between 2016 and 2017. All patients were receiving care at one of two hospitals in central New Zealand; one urban and one rural. Extracted data were used to: categorise pre-diagnostic routes for colorectal cancer; describe the characteristics of people who presented by each route; and compare key events in the diagnostic and treatment intervals for people who presented by each route. Results Six routes to the diagnosis of colorectal cancer were identified. The three main routes included: routine general practitioner (GP) referral (28%, 95% CI: 21-37%), emergency presentation (27%, 95% CI: 20-35%), and other outpatient services (26%, 95% CI: 19-34%). Patients diagnosed by routine GP referral had the longest time to diagnosis, impacting on timeliness of treatment. Discussion This study has generated detailed insights about pre-diagnostic routes for colorectal cancer in New Zealand and shown consistency with findings from previously published international research. The granular findings can now inform areas for person- and system-level interventions that, in turn, could be tested in future studies to minimise emergency department and late presentations for colorectal cancer treatment in New Zealand.
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    Disparities in quality of life, social distress and employment outcomes in Australian cancer survivors
    White, VM ; Lisy, K ; Ward, A ; Ristevski, E ; Clode, M ; Webber, K ; Emery, J ; Ijzerman, MJ ; Afshar, N ; Millar, J ; Gibbs, P ; Evans, S ; Jefford, M (SPRINGER, 2022-03-12)
    PURPOSE: To examine how socio-demographic, comorbidities and information needs influence quality of life (QoL) outcomes of survivors of breast, colorectal, or prostate cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma or melanoma. METHODS: Cross-sectional postal survey with eligible participants identified through a population-based cancer registry. QoL outcomes were assessed by EQ-5D-5L, social difficulties index (SDI) and, for those employed at diagnosis, current employment. Regression analyses explored associations between outcome variables and cancer type, age, time since diagnosis, residential location, socio-economic disadvantage, comorbidities and unmet information needs. Mediation analyses examined whether comorbidities and information needs explained relationships between outcome variables and socio-economic disadvantage. RESULTS: 2115 survivors participated. Mean EQ-5D-5L scores (mean = 0.84) were similar to population averages and SDI scores were low for the entire sample (mean = 3.80). In multivariate analyses, being aged over 80, greater socio-economic disadvantage, comorbidities and unmet information needs decreased EQ-5D-5L scores. Higher SDI scores were associated with socio-economic disadvantage, comorbidities and unmet information needs. Not being employed was associated with being aged over 50, more comorbidities and socio-economic disadvantage. Comorbidities but not information needs partially mediated the impact of socio-economic disadvantage on EQ-5D-5L and SDI accounting for 17% and 14% of the total effect of socio-economic disadvantage respectively. Neither comorbidities nor information needs mediated the association between socio-economic disadvantage and employment outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: To improve quality of life, survivorship care should be better tailored to address the needs of individuals given their overall health and impact of comorbidities, their age and type of cancer and not simply time since diagnosis.
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    Exploring a novel method for optimising the implementation of a colorectal cancer risk prediction tool into primary care: a qualitative study
    Milton, S ; Emery, JD ; Rinaldi, J ; Kinder, J ; Bickerstaffe, A ; Saya, S ; Jenkins, MA ; McIntosh, J (BMC, 2022-05-12)
    BACKGROUND: We developed a colorectal cancer risk prediction tool ('CRISP') to provide individualised risk-based advice for colorectal cancer screening. Using known environmental, behavioural, and familial risk factors, CRISP was designed to facilitate tailored screening advice to patients aged 50 to 74 years in general practice. In parallel to a randomised controlled trial of the CRISP tool, we developed and evaluated an evidence-based implementation strategy. METHODS: Qualitative methods were used to explore the implementation of CRISP in general practice. Using one general practice in regional Victoria, Australia, as a 'laboratory', we tested ways to embed CRISP into routine clinical practice. General practitioners, nurses, and operations manager co-designed the implementation methods with researchers, focussing on existing practice processes that would be sustainable. Researchers interviewed the staff regularly to assess the successfulness of the strategies employed, and implementation methods were adapted throughout the study period in response to feedback from qualitative interviews. The Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR) underpinned the development of the interview guide and intervention strategy. Coding was inductive and themes were developed through consensus between the authors. Emerging themes were mapped onto the CFIR domains and a fidelity checklist was developed to ensure CRISP was being used as intended. RESULTS: Between December 2016 and September 2019, 1 interviews were conducted, both face-to-face and via videoconferencing (Zoom). All interviews were transcribed verbatim and coded. Themes were mapped onto the following CFIR domains: (1) 'characteristics of the intervention': CRISP was valued but time consuming; (2) 'inner setting': the practice was open to changing systems; 3. 'outer setting': CRISP helped facilitate screening; (4) 'individual characteristics': the practice staff were adaptable and able to facilitate adoption of new clinical processes; and (5) 'processes': fidelity checking, and education was important. CONCLUSIONS: These results describe a novel method for exploring implementation strategies for a colorectal cancer risk prediction tool in the context of a parallel RCT testing clinical efficacy. The study identified successful and unsuccessful implementation strategies using an adaptive methodology over time. This method emphasised the importance of co-design input to make an intervention like CRISP sustainable for use in other practices and with other risk tools.
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    Patients’ Experiences of Using Skin Self-monitoring Apps with People at Higher Risk of Melanoma: Qualitative Study
    Habgood, E ; McCormack, C ; Walter, FM ; Emery, JD (JMIR Publications Inc., 2021-07-01)
    Background Melanoma is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia. Up to 75% of melanomas are first detected by patients or their family or friends. Many mobile apps for melanoma exist, including apps to encourage skin self-monitoring to improve the likelihood of early detection. Previous research in this area has focused on their development, diagnostic accuracy, or validation. Little is known about patients’ views and experiences of using these apps. Objective This study aims to understand patients’ views and experiences of using commercially available melanoma skin self-monitoring mobile apps for a period of 3 months. Methods This qualitative study was conducted in two populations: primary care (where the MelatoolsQ tool was used to identify patients who were at increased risk of melanoma) and secondary care (where patients had a previous diagnosis of melanoma, stages T0-T3a). Participants downloaded 2 of the 4 mobile apps for skin self-monitoring (SkinVision, UMSkinCheck, Mole Monitor, or MySkinPal) and were encouraged to use them for 3 months. After 3 months, a semistructured interview was conducted with participants to discuss their experiences of using the skin self-monitoring mobile apps. Results A total of 54 participants were recruited in the study, with 37% (20) of participants from primary care and 62% (34) from secondary care. Interviews were conducted with 34 participants when data saturation was reached. Most participants did not use the apps at all (n=12) or tried them once but did not continue (n=14). Only 8 participants used the apps to assist with skin self-monitoring for the entire duration of the study. Patients discussed the apps in the context of the importance of early detection and their current skin self-monitoring behaviors. A range of features of perceived quality of each app affected engagement to support skin self-monitoring. Participants described their skin self-monitoring routines and potential mismatches with the app reminders. They also described the technical and practical difficulties experienced when using the apps for skin self-monitoring. The app’s positioning within existing relationships with health care providers was crucial to understand the use of the apps. Conclusions This study of patients at increased risk of melanoma highlights several barriers to engagement with apps to support skin self-monitoring. The results highlight the wide-ranging and dynamic influences on engagement with mobile apps, which extend beyond app design and relate to broader contextual factors about skin self-monitoring routines and relationships with health care providers.
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    Effect of routinely assessing and addressing depression and diabetes distress on clinical outcomes among adults with type 2 diabetes: a systematic review
    McMorrow, R ; Hunter, B ; Hendrieckx, C ; Kwasnicka, D ; Speight, J ; Cussen, L ; Ho, FCS ; Emery, J ; Manski-Nankervis, J-A (BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP, 2022-05-01)
    OBJECTIVES: This study examined the effect of using patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) routinely to assess and address depressive symptoms and diabetes distress among adults with type 2 diabetes. DESIGN: A systematic review of published peer-reviewed studies. DATA SOURCES: Medline, Embase, CINAHL Complete, PsycINFO, The Cochrane Library and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials were searched. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: Studies including adults with type 2 diabetes, published in English, from the inception of the databases to 24 February 2022 inclusive; and where the intervention included completion of a PROM of depressive symptoms and/or diabetes distress, with feedback of the responses to a healthcare professional. DATA EXTRACTION AND SYNTHESIS: Using Covidence software, screening and risk of bias assessment were conducted by two reviewers independently with any disagreements resolved by a third reviewer. RESULTS: The search identified 4512 citations, of which 163 full-text citations were assessed for eligibility, and nine studies met the inclusion criteria. Five studies involved assessment of depressive symptoms only, two studies assessed diabetes distress only, and two studies assessed both. All studies had an associated cointervention. When depressive symptoms were assessed (n=7), a statistically significant between-group difference in depressive symptoms was observed in five studies; with a clinically significant (>0.5%) between-group difference in HbA1c in two studies. When diabetes distress was assessed (n=4), one study demonstrated statistically significant difference in depressive symptoms and diabetes distress; with a clinically significant between-group difference in HbA1c observed in two studies. CONCLUSION: Studies are sparse in which PROMs are used to assess and address depressive symptoms or diabetes distress during routine clinical care of adults with type 2 diabetes. Further research is warranted to understand how to integrate PROMs into clinical care efficiently and determine appropriate interventions to manage identified problem areas. PROSPERO REGISTRATION NUMBER: CRD42020200246.
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    Patient-reported diagnostic intervals to colorectal cancer diagnosis in the Midland region of New Zealand: a prospective cohort study
    Blackmore, T ; Chepulis, L ; Rawiri, K ; Kidd, J ; Stokes, T ; Firth, M ; Elwood, M ; Weller, D ; Emery, J ; Lawrenson, R (OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2021-12-06)
    BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: New Zealand (NZ) has high rates of colorectal cancer (CRC) but low rates of early detection. The majority of CRC is diagnosed through general practice, where lengthy diagnostic intervals are common. We investigated factors contributing to diagnostic delay in a cohort of patients newly diagnosed with CRC. METHODS: Patients were recruited from the Midland region and interviewed about their diagnostic experience using a questionnaire based on a modified Model of Pathways to Treatment framework and SYMPTOM questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the population characteristics. Chi-square analysis and logistic regression were used to analyse factors influencing diagnostic intervals. RESULTS: Data from 176 patients were analysed, of which 65 (36.9%) experienced a general practitioner (GP) diagnostic interval of >120 days and 96 (54.5%) experienced a total diagnostic interval (TDI) > 120 days. Patients reporting rectal bleeding were less likely to experience a long TDI (odds ratio [OR] 0.34, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.14-0.78) and appraisal/help-seeking interval (OR, 0.19, 95% CI: 0.06-0.59). Patients <60 were more likely to report a longer appraisal/help-seeking interval (OR, 3.32, 95% CI: 1.17-9.46). Female (OR, 2.19, 95% CI: 1.08-4.44) and Māori patients (OR, 3.18, 95% CI: 1.04-9.78) were more likely to experience a long GP diagnostic interval. CONCLUSION: NZ patients with CRC can experience long diagnostic intervals, attributed to patient and health system factors. Young patients, Māori, females, and patients experiencing change of bowel habit may be at particular risk. We need to increase symptom awareness of CRC for patients and GPs. Concentrated efforts are needed to ensure equity for Māori in access to screening, diagnostics, and treatment.
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    Mapping disadvantage: identifying inequities in functional outcomes for prostate cancer survivors based on geography
    Koo, K ; Papa, N ; Evans, M ; Jefford, M ; IJzerman, M ; White, V ; Evans, SM ; Ristevski, E ; Emery, J ; Millar, J (BMC, 2022-03-17)
    BACKGROUND: Prostate cancer is the most common internal malignancy in Australian men, and although most patients have good survival outcomes, treatment toxicities can impair function, leading to diminished quality of life for prostate cancer survivors. Socioeconomic disadvantage and geographical remoteness have been shown to be related to worse oncologic outcomes, and it is expected that they would similarly influence functional outcomes in prostate cancer. METHODS: Using data from the Victorian Prostate Cancer Outcomes Registry (n = 10,924), we investigated functional outcomes as measured by the Expanded Prostate Cancer Index Composite-26 (EPIC-26) following prostate cancer treatment, focusing on associations with socioeconomic status and geographical remoteness and controlling for clinicopathologic characteristics. A single composite score was developed from the five separate EPIC-26 domains for use in geo-mapping. RESULTS: A total of 7690 patients had complete EPIC-26 data, allowing mapping hotspots of poor function using our composite score. These hotspots were observed to relate to areas of socioeconomic disadvantage. Significant heterogeneity in outcomes was seen in urban areas, with hotspots of good and poor function. Both socioeconomic disadvantage and geographical remoteness were found to predict for worse functional outcomes, although only the former is significant on multivariate analysis. CONCLUSIONS: Geo-mapping of functional outcomes in prostate cancer has the potential to guide health care service provision and planning. A nuanced policy approach is required so as not to miss disadvantaged patients who live in urban areas. We have demonstrated the potential of geo-mapping to visualise population-level outcomes, potentially allowing targeted interventions to address inequities in quality of care.
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    Incidence trends for twelve cancers in younger adults-a rapid review
    di Martino, E ; Smith, L ; Bradley, SH ; Hemphill, S ; Wright, J ; Renzi, C ; Bergin, R ; Emery, J ; Neal, RD (SPRINGERNATURE, 2022-02-07)
    Many cancer referral guidelines use patient's age as a key criterium to decide who should be referred urgently. A recent rise in the incidence of colorectal cancer in younger adults has been described in high-income countries worldwide. Information on other cancers is more limited. The aim of this rapid review was to determine whether other cancers are also increasing in younger age groups, as this may have important implications for prioritising patients for investigation and referral. We searched MEDLINE, Embase and Web of Science for studies describing age-related incidence trends for colorectal, bladder, lung, oesophagus, pancreas, stomach, breast, ovarian, uterine, kidney and laryngeal cancer and myeloma. 'Younger' patients were defined based on NICE guidelines for cancer referral. Ninety-eight studies met the inclusion criteria. Findings show that the incidence of colorectal, breast, kidney, pancreas, uterine cancer is increasing in younger age groups, whilst the incidence of lung, laryngeal and bladder cancer is decreasing. Data for oesophageal, stomach, ovarian cancer and myeloma were inconclusive. Overall, this review provides evidence that some cancers are increasingly being diagnosed in younger age groups, although the mechanisms remain unclear. Cancer investigation and referral guidelines may need updating in light of these trends.