Cancer care is mostly situated in hospitals. Advanced practice nurses (APN) play an increasing role in this care. The role of Belgian general practitioners (GPs) in oncology is unclear. Clarification of the roles taken up by GPs is necessary to understand how communication between those involved in the patients' care can be improved. The aim of this study is to explore what Flemish GPs see as their role in oncology and what relations and information is needed to provide care for oncology patients.
A qualitative study based on individual interviews with a convenience sample of 14 Flemish GPs. Techniques of Grounded Theory are used to analyze the data.
The participating GPs describe their role in the first and last phases of the illness trajectory as mostly clear. During the treatment and follow-up phase, their role is more variable because it depends on their perception of responsibility towards the patient. Their perception of medical responsibility, whether they work proactively and expectations of the specialist define care. As follow-up is less systematic, proactively working GPs feel like they are left out of care. They would like to receive more and timely information (on psychosocial aspects). There is no true transmural teamwork and GPs are rarely well informed about the role of APNs.
Because of the variety of roles GPs describe, differentiation in communication is recommended, where an APN could be involved. To improve this collaboration, across the borders of primary and secondary/tertiary care, further efforts are needed.
Clinical trial identification
Legal entity responsible for the study
Has not received any funding.
All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.