Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
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Saab MM;O'Driscoll M;FitzGerald S;Sahm LJ;Leahy-Warren P;Noonan B;Kilty C;Lyons N;Burns HE;Kennedy U;Lyng ;Hegarty J;
Bmc Primary Care
Primary healthcare professionals' perspectives on patient help-seeking for lung cancer warning signs and symptoms: a qualitative study.
WOS: 2 ()
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Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer incidence and mortality worldwide. Prompt patient help-seeking for signs and symptoms suggestive of lung cancer is crucial for early referral, diagnosis, and survivorship. However, individuals with potential lung cancer symptoms tend to delay help-seeking. This qualitative study explored perceived barriers to patient help-seeking and strategies to enhance help-seeking for lung cancer warning signs and symptoms from the perspective of primary healthcare professionals. Semi-structured focus groups and individual interviews were conducted with 36 primary healthcare professionals. Data were collected via videoconferencing. Inductive thematic analysis was conducted. The following two themes were created from the data: (i) perceived barriers to patient help-seeking for signs and symptoms of concern and (ii) facilitating early patient presentation for signs and symptoms of concern. Some participants believed that the high cost of a general practitioner visit, long waiting times, and previous bad experiences with the healthcare system would deter patients from seeking help for symptoms of lung cancer. Perceived patient-related barriers to help-seeking related to the different emotions associated with a potential cancer diagnosis as well as stigma, embarrassment, and guilt felt by smokers. Sociodemographic factors such as drug use, homelessness, living in rural areas, and being male and older were also perceived to impede patient help-seeking. The negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer help-seeking also featured strongly. Participants recommended several strategies to enable patients to seek help for symptoms of concern including targeted educational campaigns focussing on symptoms (e.g., cough) rather than behaviours (e.g., smoking), accessible and free health services, and using patients' support networks. Patient-related and healthcare system-related barriers to help-seeking for lung cancer warning signs and symptoms include cost of healthcare, cancer fear, and various sociodemographic factors. Participants suggested that increased awareness and early patient help-seeking for symptoms of concern could be achieved through targeted patient education, national campaigns, the use of community support networks, and free and accessible targeted screening services.
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