Perspectives of Family Doctors on Access to Lung Cancer Screening for Low Income Patients in Canada

In Canada, low income individuals are less likely to participate in lung cancer screening with a CT scan. This is particularly problematic as the highest incidence of lung cancer is found in populations disadvantaged by a variety of social determinants of health such as income and education. Family doctors are generally responsible for referring eligible patients to screening. For this reason, the researchers sought to investigate family doctors’ perspectives on access to lung cancer screening for low income individuals in order to improve equity in access to appropriate screening.  Four overarching themes emerged following interviews with doctors in primary care: the degree of social disadvantage that influences lung cancer risk and opportunities to access care; the clinical encounter (where there is often a mismatch between the complex health needs of low income patients and structure of appointments); the need for equity-oriented health care; and the multi pronged strategies needed to improve equity in health outcomes. Overall, the study concluded that a team-based approach to clinical care that addresses the social determinants of health and facilitates overall health and well being is needed to enhance access to lung cancer screening. 

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