Primary content


J Young (Lead)

C McAulay

I Stacey

M Varlow

D Currow



This paper describes differences in beliefs, behaviours and systems in primary care in NSW.


A core questionnaire was developed by the ICBP team to address GPs’ beliefs about the early diagnosis of cancer and their role in the cancer system, their investigation and referral practices for a patient presenting with a symptom that could be cancer and the availability and timeliness of diagnostic tests and specialist referrals.  In addition, a series of case vignettes was developed to test GPs’ knowledge and self-reported behaviours regarding further investigation, treatment and follow-up of patients with a variety of symptoms that could suggest a possible cancer diagnosis.  Using a commercial mail-house, invitations to participate in the survey were sent to 2246 GPs in NSW.  To maximise the response rates, each GP was mailed a primer, invitation and three reminder letters.


Responses received from 140 GPs in rural NSW and 133 in urban NSW, for an overall response rate of 12.2%. Most respondents agreed that early diagnosis is important for outcomes of breast, ovarian, colorectal, and lung cancer. However there were marked differences in the access GPs reported to investigation and specialists between urban and rural areas and the public and private sector, and distance to treatment was raised as an issue particularly by rural GPs. Most GPs surveyed agreed that they would like more information on cancer referral pathways and procedures, diagnostic services, specialists and clinic availabilities and waiting times, and more opportunities for ongoing professional learning in cancer and to share patient care following cancer treatment.


GPs in NSW surveyed as part of the ICBP identified many opportunities for enhancing their role in cancer control and this paper will highlight how we are beginning to take advantage of these opportunities.