Interventions to reduce primary care delay in cancer referral: a systematic review

Gemma Mansell, Mark Shapley, Joanne L Jordan, Kelvin Jordan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Reducing delay in the primary care part of the cancer care pathway is likely to improve cancer survival. Identifying effective interventions in primary care would allow action by primary healthcare professionals and local commissioners to reduce delay.

Aim To identify interventions that reduce primary care delay in the referral of patients with cancer to secondary care.

Design and setting Systematic review in primary care.

Method Eight electronic databases were searched using terms for primary care, cancer, and delay. Exclusion criteria included screening and the 2-week-wait referral system. Reference lists of relevant papers were hand searched. The quality of each paper was assessed using predefined criteria, and checked by a second reviewer.

Results Searches identified 1798 references, of which 22 papers were found to meet the criteria. Interventions concerning education, audit and feedback, decision support software and guideline use, diagnostic tools, and other specific skills training were identified. Most studies reported a positive effect on their specified outcomes, although no study measured a direct effect on reducing delay.

Conclusion There was no evidence that any intervention directly reduced primary care delay in the diagnosis of cancer. Limited evidence suggests that complex interventions, including audit and feedback and specific skills training, have the potential to do so.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e821-e835
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number593
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011


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