Evaluation, Research and Development Unit

Practice-level inequalities in cancer diagnosis

Background

The National Audit of Cancer Diagnosis in Primary Care is beginning to demonstrate significant variations in quality of care for patients with cancer during the period between first consulting and receiving a diagnosis. A topical example is the variation in use of the 2-week referral pathway for suspected cancer, highlighted in the Cancer Reform Strategy 2nd annual report. At the same time the quality of routinely available data to characterise practices, both in general and in respect of cancer diagnosis, is improving rapidly. In 2009 the ESRC invited proposals for PhD studentships that would make use of large scale databases. As a member of the region's Centre for Translational Research in Public Health, GR made a successful application for a study that would focus on the use of these sources of cancer data to investigate whether inequalities in cancer care were attributable to practice-level characteristics.

Justification

Addresses priority of cancer mortality and requirement by DH of PCTs to address between-practice inequalities in cancer care.

Methods

Focusing on practices within defined areas in the north east, we will use routinely collected data about general practices and attempt to explain inequalities in cancer outcomes.  This analysis will be complemented by qualitative research with practice staff.

Timescales

This is a three year PhD, commencing November 2009

Value

£60,000. Funded by ESRC

Contact helen.wareham@durham.ac.uk