An evaluation of information cards as a means of improving communication between hospital and primary care for women with breast cancer
This paper describes an intervention study aimed at improving communication between hospital services and the primary health care team. A series of information cards were developed by breast specialist secondary care professionals for members of the primary health care team. Women with breast cancer were involved in the communication pathway and were asked to take the information cards to their own general practitioner (GP) practice. It was envisaged that women would be more likely to utilize the primary health care team for information if they were aware that the primary health care team was in receipt of information specific to the treatment they had received. Women newly diagnosed with breast cancer were allocated to either an intervention (n=38) or non-intervention (n=38) group. Patient interviews were carried out around the time of diagnosis and at 4 months from diagnosis. Interviews were also carried out with 31 GPs to ascertain their views on the provision of information for women with breast cancer, and on the information cards if relevant. The study findings were interesting although not significant in terms of the direction anticipated. The cards did not impact on the utilization of the primary health care team and women in the intervention group were no more likely to utilize primary care sources of information than women in the non-intervention group. Factors such as the long-standing relationship women had with their GP, the perceived lack of specialist knowledge on the part of GPs and district nurses, and the women’s perception that information seeking was not a tangible reason for primary care contact had an impact on information-seeking behaviour.