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Br J Gen Pract. 2001 Oct;51(471):817-21.

Evaluation of the impact of two educational interventions on GP management of familial breast/ovarian cancer cases: a cluster randomised controlled trial.

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CRC Primary Care Education Research Group, Department of Primary Health Care, University of Oxford, Institute of Health Sciences, Headington, Oxford OX3 7LF.



It has been suggested that primary care should become more involved in providing genetic services, such as basic risk assessment, to enable patients with a moderate/high risk to be referred and those with a low risk to receive reassurance and advice from their general practitioner (GP). However, GPs currently lack knowledge and confidence in this area.


To investigate the effect of an in-practice educational session and information pack on GP management of familial breast/ovarian cancer cases.


Cluster randomised controlled trial.


GP principals in 170 practices in Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire. Of the 688 GPs, 426 (62%) participated.


Practices were randomised either to Group A (receiving an inpractice educational session plus information pack), Group B (receiving an information pack alone), or Group C (receiving neither an educational session nor a pack). The main study outcome was the proportion of GPs making the correct referral decision on at least five out of six family history vignettes. A secondary outcome was GPs' reported confidence in managing patients with a family history of breast/ovarian cancer, measured by a score that was generated by combining responses to four questions.


There was a 40% (95% CI = 30-50%, P < 0.001) improvement in the proportion of GPs who made the correct referral decision on at least five out of the six vignettes in Group A (111/140 [79%]) compared with Group C (controls) (63/162 [39%]), and a 42% (95% CI = 31-52%, P < 0.001) improvement in Group B (100/124 [81%]) compared with the control group. There was a trend in reported confidence in the management of individuals with a family history of breast/ovarian cancer from a mean confidence score of 2.3 in Group A to 2.0 in Group B and 1.5 in Group C (P < 0.001).


Providing GPs with an information pack significantly improved referral decisions regarding patients with a family history of breast/ovarian cancer. Although extremely well received, an in-house educational session produced no additional improvements. There were, however, greater levels of reported confidence in the group who received the educational session in addition to the information pack.

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