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Keywords:

  • cancer patients;
  • continuity of care;
  • general practitioner;
  • home care nurses

Intensified primary cancer care: a randomized study of home care nurse contacts

Newly diagnosed cancer patients (n=527) were randomised to intensified primary care or a control group. Intensified primary care comprised routines to improve general practitioners’ and home care nurses’ possibilities to support and monitor patients, i.e. increased information from specialist care, education and supervision in cancer care. The aims of this paper are to evaluate the effects of intensified primary care on cancer patients’ home care nurse contacts, and to study if patients’ use of home care services 6 months after diagnosis can be predicted. The intervention resulted in a marked increase of follow-up contacts. About 90% of intensified primary care patients reported such contacts, compared to 26% of control patients. The results indicate that standard care does not routinely include follow-up contacts, not even for the oldest (80+ years) or those with advanced disease. Only 27% and 36% of these groups of control patients reported follow-ups. Logistic regression analysis identified intensified primary care as the strongest predictor for reporting a continuing contact 6 months after diagnosis. Intensified primary care patients were 14 times more likely than controls to report a such contact. The strongest predictor of a continuing contact in the intensified primary care group was high age. Patients with advanced disease were more likely than patients with non-advanced disease to report a continuing contact, and living in a rural district was positively associated with reporting a contact. A majority of the patients (70%) assessed the time for the first contact as the ‘right time’ and estimated that the nurse gave expected support to a very large or large extent (67%). The results suggest that routines like those implemented through intensified primary care may be an effective strategy to increase the accessibility and continuity of care, especially for elderly people and for patients with a need for long-term contacts.