Start Date Mar 2019
Code M5-Aff, PhD
Patients with early prevalent cancer can present with non-specific symptoms or combination of symptoms. There is evidence to suggest that when associated with a failure to follow up abnormal pathology tests and/or imaging test results, a cancer diagnosis can be delayed or missed. Missed cancer diagnosis is one of the leading diagnostic errors in primary care, and is associated with serious health consequences for patients. General practitioners (GPs) have a significant role as gatekeepers to specialist care in Australia, and this presents challenges for GPs to make appropriate and timely actions and potential diagnoses for cancer.
This PhD aims to determine the prevalence of abnormal test results and the failure to follow-up these results that are associated with undiagnosed prevalent cancer. We will develop a clinical audit and decision support tool ab initio that aims to assist in the follow-up and management of abnormal test results associated with undiagnosed prevalent cancer. Simulation testing of the tool using clinical case studies and simulated patients will be conducted with GPs to determine the usability, feasibility and acceptability of the tool, prior to potential pilot testing and implementation in general practice clinics.
This project will be the first to explore and estimate the prevalence of abnormal test results and failure to follow up test results in the Australia primary care context. The program of research will develop and test a clinical audit and decision support tool to provide robust and tailored guidance for test result management for patients with a potential and early cancer diagnosis.