Targeted encouragement of GP consultations for possible cancer symptoms: a randomised controlled trial.

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For some common cancers, survival is lower in the UK than in comparable high-income countries.To assess the effectiveness of a targeted postal intervention (to promote awareness of cancer symptoms and earlier help seeking) on patient consultation rates.A two-arm randomised controlled trial was carried out on patients aged 50-84 years registered at 23 general practices in rural and urban areas of Greater London, Greater Manchester, and the North East of England.Patients who had not had a consultation at their general practice in the previous 12 months and had at least two other risk factors for late presentation with cancer were randomised to intervention and control arms. The intervention consisted of a posted letter and leaflet. Primary outcome was the number of consultations at the practice with patients randomised to each arm in the 6 months subsequent to posting the intervention. All patients with outcome data were included in the intention-to-treat analyses.In total, 1513 patients were individually randomised to the intervention (n = 783) and control (n = 730) arms between Nov 2016 – May 2017; outcome data were available for 749 and 705 patients, respectively, with a statistically significantly higher rate of consultation in the intervention arm compared with the control arm: 436 versus 335 consultations (relative risk 1.40, 95% confidence interval = 1.11 to 1.77, P = 0.004). There was, however, no difference in the numbers of patients consulting.Targeted interventions of this nature can change behaviour; there is a need to develop interventions that can be more effective at engaging patients with primary care. This study demonstrates that targeted interventions promoting both awareness of possible cancer symptoms and earlier health seeking, can change behaviour. There is a need to develop and test interventions that can be more effective at engaging the most at-risk patients.

View the full article @ The British journal of general practice : the journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners
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Authors: Jean-Pierre Laake, Daniel Vulkan, Samantha L Quaife, William T Hamilton, Tanimola Martins, Jo Waller, Dharmishta Parmar, Peter Sasieni, Stephen W Duffy