Understanding primary care nurses’ contribution to cancer early diagnosis: A systematic review

The role of nurses in primary care settings has expanded over time in several ways, including cancer screening. Primary care nurses are now more likely to encounter patients with cancer symptoms and are ideally placed to discuss patient concerns and promote informed decision-making regarding cancer screening. This systematic review investigated the extent to which nurses contribute to early diagnosis of cancer in developed countries. The results showed marked differences between countries in terms of knowledge of cancer warnings signs, knowledge of screening recommendations, knowledge of recommended ages for screening initiation and termination, time intervals for screening, the number of nurses reporting having screening related discussions with patients, and the prevalence and adequacy of training and support. A number of barriers to nurses’ involvement in early diagnosis related discussions were identified, including a lack of time, insufficient knowledge and communication skills and a lack of confidence. Future research should focus on understanding international variation in primary care nurses’ contributions to early diagnosis, and how they can be better educated and supported in this area. Read full text
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