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J Med Imaging Radiat Oncol. 2017 Oct 28. doi: 10.1111/1754-9485.12685. [Epub ahead of print]

Targeting general practitioners: Prospective outcomes of a national education program in radiation oncology.

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Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Faculty of Radiation Oncology, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Radiation Oncology Centres, Gold Coast University Hospital, Southport, Queensland, Australia.



We report on learning outcomes of a standardized national education program aimed at improving general practitioner (GP) knowledge about radiation therapy (RT) and referral pathways to radiation oncologists (ROs).


In 2014, a GP education program was developed through the Targeting Cancer public awareness campaign of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) Faculty of Radiation Oncology. The sessions were held in RT departments and comprised of RO-led case-based group learning and a department tour. Pre- and immediate post-session surveys assessed four domains: Objective knowledge about RT, understanding of referral pathways to ROs, self-reported referral behaviours, feedback on the session. A 6-month follow up survey assessed ongoing knowledge retention.


Eighteen sessions were held nationwide between October 2014 and March 2016. One hundred and seventy-four were surveyed. Pre-session, 96% of GPs reported their knowledge of RT required improvement. Post-session, 95% rated their knowledge as 'excellent', 'above average' or 'competent'. 32.5% of GPs were not aware of the location of their local RT department. 81% reported patients would benefit from having clearer referral pathways to ROs. 96% agreed the GP's role is to refer cancer patients to relevant specialists to discuss treatment options. However, only 49% were comfortable referring directly to an RO. Post-session rose to 92%. All respondents felt the session improved their understanding of RT. In the follow up survey, 17 respondents (94%) reported the session had improved their ability to care for cancer patients.


A national GP education program improves GP knowledge about RT and may influence patient referrals for RT.


general practitioners; medical education; radiation oncology

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