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Embedding electronic decision-support tools for suspected cancer in primary care: a qualitative study of GPs' experiences

Dikomitis, Lisa; Green, Trish; Macleod, Una


Lisa Dikomitis

Trish Green


Aim: The purpose of this evaluation was to obtain views from general practitioners (GPs) who piloted the electronic risk assessment tools (eRATs) for suspected lung or colorectal cancer. We wanted to find out whether GPs were able to integrate these tools into their everyday practice. We were also keen to identify facilitators and barriers to their more widespread use. Background: Cancer remains one of UK’s biggest health problems, in terms of morbidity and mortality. Comparative European data show that five-year survival figures for many cancers are lower in the United Kingdom than in comparable European countries. eRATs are intended to aid recognition of symptoms of lung and colorectal cancers in patients aged 40 years and over. Methods: This was a qualitative study; telephone interviews were conducted with 23 GPs who piloted the eRATs. A systematic qualitative analysis was applied to the data. The normalisation process model was used after data collection. This theory-driven conceptual framework was used to examine the operationalisation of this intervention in Primary Care. Findings: Electronic decision-support tools appear to be useful additions to the resources available to GPs in order to assist them with recognizing potential cancer symptoms. However, the tools need to be refined in order to integrate them into GP practice. The tools raised GPs’ awareness about cancer because of the prompt facility of the software, although this also raised the potential of ‘prompt fatigue’. GPs constantly receive alerts via their clinical system, particularly related to the Quality and Outcomes Framework. The integration of eRATs into routine practice could be engendered by improvement to the training packages that accompany them, and by its delivery via a platform compatible with all GP clinical systems.


Dikomitis, L., Green, T., & Macleod, U. (2015). Embedding electronic decision-support tools for suspected cancer in primary care: a qualitative study of GPs' experiences. Primary health care research & development, 16(6), 548-555.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 1, 2014
Online Publication Date Mar 3, 2015
Publication Date Nov 1, 2015
Deposit Date Dec 11, 2015
Publicly Available Date Nov 23, 2017
Journal Primary health care research and development
Print ISSN 1463-4236
Electronic ISSN 1477-1128
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Issue 6
Pages 548-555
Keywords Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health; Care Planning
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an open access article published in Primary health care research and development, 2015, v.16 issue 6.


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Copyright Statement
© Cambridge University Press 2015 This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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