Referral pathways in colorectal cancer: findings from a qualitative study in general practice

Mark F Harris, Shane W Pascoe, Lisa J Crossland, Justin J Beilby, Craig Veitch and Allan D Spigelman
Med J Aust 2011; 195 (4): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2011.tb03274.x
Published online: 15 August 2011

To the Editor: Despite the availability of clinical guidelines,1 management of patients with colorectal cancer is variable.2 The lack of a clear referral pathway can delay this journey3 and result in patients not receiving optimal care.4 To increase our understanding of factors influencing the referral of patients with colorectal cancer from general practice to specialists, we examined the views of 19 general practitioners in four focus groups — held in rural and urban New South Wales, rural Queensland, and urban South Australia.

  • Mark F Harris1
  • Shane W Pascoe1
  • Lisa J Crossland2
  • Justin J Beilby3
  • Craig Veitch4
  • Allan D Spigelman5

  • 1 Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW.
  • 2 Discipline of General Practice, Royal Brisbane Hospital, Brisbane, QLD.
  • 3 Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA.
  • 4 University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.
  • 5 University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW.



We acknowledge Dianne O’Connell, David Goldsbury, Michael Barton, Ian Olver and John Stubbs, who are co-investigators on the study team. We also thank Cancer Australia for providing funding for this project; the Riverina Division of General Practice and Primary Health, Macarthur Division of General Practice, Adelaide Western General Practice Network, and Rural Doctors Association of Queensland for assisting with recruitment of study participants; and Jackie Street for assisting with data collection.


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