Promoting prompt help-seeking for symptoms – assessing the impact of a gynaecological cancer leaflet on presentations to primary care

This randomised controlled trial aimed to assess whether being sent a symptom awareness leaflet affects the rate and timing of presentation to primary care for symptoms indicative of gynaecological cancers. Over 15,000 women from 5 general practices in Northamtonshire, UK, were randomised to either the intervention or control group. The intervention group received an educational leaflet explaining the symptoms of gynaecological cancers and advising symptomatic patients to visit their GP. The control group was not contacted. During the 4-month period following leaflet distribution, 231 (3.0%) from the intervention group and 207 (2.7%) of controls presented to their GP with a relevant symptom, but this higher rate was not statistically significant. There was a significantly lower mean time to first presentation in the symptomatic intervention group (57.2 days vs 65.2 days). This study is one of the first to quantify the impact of an educational leaflet on time to presentation in primary care. Evidence suggests that this low-intensity intervention may decrease time to presentation in gynaecological cancers and this strategy could be incorporated into a wider symptom awareness campaign.

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