Educational interventions for primary healthcare professionals to promote the early diagnosis of cancer: a systematic review.
Schichtel M., Rose PW., Sellers C.
BACKGROUND: Primary healthcare professionals seem to lack knowledge and skills in the area of diagnosing cancer which may lead to more advanced stage at diagnosis, poorer cancer survival figures and increased morbidity. The aim of this study was to examine the evidence of effectiveness of educational interventions for primary healthcare professionals to promote the early diagnosis of cancer. METHODS: We searched bibliographic databases, the grey literature and reference lists for randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of educational interventions delivered at an individual clinician and practice level. RESULTS: We found sufficient evidence that interactive education, computerised reminder systems and audit and feedback delivered to clinicians may significantly increase several cancer detection measures in the short term and some evidence that they promote early diagnosis. Whilst educational outreach and local opinion leaders had some effect, formal education alone seemed ineffectual. CONCLUSION: Certain educational interventions delivered at a clinician as well as at a practice level may promote the early diagnosis of cancer in primary care. There is currently limited evidence for their long-term sustainability and effectiveness.