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Intern Med J. 2006 Nov;36(11):711-7.

Information sources used by New South Wales cancer clinicians: a qualitative study.

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Population Health and Use of Medicines Unit, St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia.



This study identified (i) information sources used by cancer clinicians to guide pharmacological treatments, (ii) utilization of, and opinions about, online information sources and (iii) clinicians' ability to access a specific cancer treatment protocol (escalated bleomycin, etiposide, doxorubicin, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, procarbazine, prednisone (BEACOPP) for Hodgkin's Lymphoma). The work was carried out before activation of the Cancer Institute New South Wales Standard Cancer Treatment (CI-SCaT) programme.


We conducted semistructured interviews with a purposeful sample of senior and junior doctors, nurses and pharmacists treating adult cancer patients (n = 32) in eight New South Wales public hospitals.


Information seeking processes are context specific and vary from clinician to clinician and ward to ward. Clinicians use human, electronic and printed information sources at, or close to, the point of patient care; however, experienced colleagues are preferred where information is needed quickly or in unfamiliar clinical situations. Barriers to using online cancer information are environmental (hardware, connection speeds, time), personal (poor computer literacy and lack of awareness of appropriate sites) and economic (costs of journal subscriptions). Just over half of participants were able to locate a specific cancer protocol and none of these protocols was fully consistent with CI-SCaT recommendations.


There is no standardized approach to the pharmacological treatment of cancer patients in this sample of New South Wales clinicians. CI-SCaT will fill a gap with respect to standardizing oncology treatment. However, to ensure maximal CI-SCaT uptake, implementation plans should harness positive behavioural influences and attempt to modify the negative forces that act on hospital clinicians in their day-to-day work.

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