Patient and practitioner views on cancer risk discussions in primary care: a qualitative study

A large amount of preventable cancer cases can be attributed to modifiable lifestyle risk factors like smoking, obesity, alcohol intake, and inactivity. There is growing interest in presenting cancer risk information in primary care settings to help encourage behaviour change and lifestyle modification. This qualitative study in the UK explored the views and experiences of patients and practitioners in relation to cancer prevention and cancer risk discussions in general practice. The results suggest that most discussions of cancer risk focus on smoking and cancer, with links between alcohol/obesity and cancer rarely made. The use of additional resources like personalised cancer risk tools were supported, with GPs suggesting practice nurses were best placed to use them. A few concerns were expressed about generating anxiety, time constraints, and widening inequalities. Overall, health behaviour change is complex, and providing risk information alone is unlikely to have a significant effect. Personalised risk tools may play a role in modifying patient lifestyles and encouraging behaviour change, however further research on their implementation is needed. Read full text
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