OBJECTIVE: To explore the correspondence between primary and secondary healthcare providers about patients with lung, breast or colorectal cancer.
DESIGN: Qualitative research.
METHOD: We collected the medical files of 50 patients with lung, breast or colorectal cancer by purposive sampling and selected the correspondence-related items from them. These concerned referral letters from primary to secondary caregivers and letters from specialists. A qualitative content analysis of these documents was performed. In addition, 4 general practitioners, 4 oncologists and 1 nurse specialist were interviewed.
RESULTS: We analysed 50 referral letters and 369 letters from specialists. Content could be divided into 6 main themes in the referral letters, and it was noticeable that highly relevant information regarding the past medical history was often mixed with less relevant information. The same was true for the medication list and case history to a certain extent. We could distinguish 9 themes in the letters from specialists. All the letters from specialists did include information about the current treatment, but information about treatment intent (curative or palliative) or alternative treatment options was rarely available. Interviews with the healthcare providers confirmed these findings.
CONCLUSION: The study findings indicate that referral letters and specialist correspondence are not sufficiently tailored to the needs of the recipient.
|Translated title of the contribution||Correspondence between primary and secondary healthcare providers about patients with cancer; how can it be improved?|
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde|
|Publication status||Published - Jun-2019|