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INTRODUCTION: Safety-netting in primary care is the best practice in cancer diagnosis, ensuring that patients are followed up until symptoms are explained or have resolved. Currently, clinicians use haphazard manual solutions. The ubiquitous use of electronic health records provides an opportunity to standardise safety-netting practices.A new electronic safety-netting toolkit has been introduced to provide systematic ways to track and follow up patients. We will evaluate the effectiveness of this toolkit, which is embedded in a major primary care clinical system in England:Egerton Medical Information System(EMIS)-Web. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: We will conduct a stepped-wedge cluster RCT in 60 general practices within the RCGP Research and Surveillance Centre (RSC) network. Groups of 10 practices will be randomised into the active phase at 2-monthly intervals over 12 months. All practices will be activated for at least 2 months. The primary outcome is the primary care interval measured as days between the first recorded symptom of cancer (within the year prior to diagnosis) and the subsequent referral to secondary care. Other outcomes include referrals rates and rates of direct access cancer investigation.Analysis of the clustered stepped-wedge design will model associations using a fixed effect for intervention condition of the cluster at each time step, a fixed effect for time and other covariates, and then include a random effect for practice and for patient to account for correlation between observations from the same centre and from the same participant. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Ethical approval has been obtained from the North West-Greater Manchester West National Health Service Research Ethics Committee (REC Reference 19/NW/0692). Results will be disseminated in peer-reviewed journals and conferences, and sent to participating practices. They will be published on the University of Oxford Nuffield Department of Primary Care and RCGP RSC websites. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ISRCTN15913081; Pre-results.

Original publication

DOI

10.1136/bmjopen-2020-038562

Type

Journal article

Journal

BMJ Open

Publication Date

24/08/2020

Volume

10

Keywords

health informatics, oncology, primary care