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Volume-outcome relationship for colorectal cancer in primary care: a prospective cohort study

David W. Borowski (Surgery Department, University Hospital North Tees, Stockton-on-Tees, UK)
Sarah Cawkwell (Finance department, University Hospital of North Tees, Stockton-on-Tees, UK)
Syed M. Amir Zaidi (Surgery Department, University Hospital of North Tees, Stockton-on-Tees, UK)
Matthew Toward (Upper GI/Bariatric Surgery Department, University Hospital of North Tees, Stockton-on-Tees, UK)
Nicola Maguire (Surgery Department, University Hospital of North Tees, Stockton-on-Tees, UK)
Talvinder S. Gill (Surgery Department, University Hospital of North Tees, Stockton-on-Tees, UK)

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Publication date: 12 June 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Higher caseloads are associated with better outcomes for many conditions treated in secondary and tertiary care settings, including colorectal cancer (CRC). There is little known whether such volume-outcome relationship exist in primary care settings. The purpose of this paper is to examine general practitioner (GP) CRC-specific caseload for possible associations with referral pathways, disease stage and CRC patients’ overall survival.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper retrospectively analyses a prospectively maintained CRC database for 2009-2014 in a single district hospital providing bowel cancer screening and tertiary rectal cancer services.

Findings

Of 1,145 CRC patients, 937 (81.8 per cent) were diagnosed as symptomatic cancers. In total, 210 GPs from 44 practices were stratified according to their CRC caseload over the study period into low volume (LV, 1-4); medium volume (MV, 5-7); and high volume (HV, 8-21 cases). Emergency presentation (LV: 49/287 (17.1 per cent); MV: 75/264 (28.4 per cent); HV: 105/386 (27.2 per cent); p=0.007) and advanced disease at presentation (LV: 84/287 (29.3 per cent); MV: 94/264 (35.6 per cent); HV: 144/386 (37.3 per cent); p=0.034) was more common amongst HV GPs. Three-year mortality risk was significantly higher for HV GPs (MV: (hazard ratio) HR 1.185 (confidence interval=0.897-1.566), p=0.231, and HV: HR 1.366 (CI=1.061-1.759), p=0.016), but adjustment for emergency presentation and advanced disease largely accounted for this difference. There was some evidence that HV GPs used elective cancer pathways less frequently (LV: 166/287 (57.8 per cent); MV: 130/264 (49.2 per cent); HV: 182/386 (47.2 per cent); p=0.007) and more selectively (CRC/referrals: LV: 166/2,743 (6.1 per cent); MV: 130/2,321 (5.6 per cent); HV: 182/2,508 (7.3 per cent); p=0.048).

Originality/value

Higher GP CRC caseload in primary care may be associated with advanced disease and poorer survival; more work is required to determine the reasons and to develop targeted intervention at local level to improve elective referral rates.

Keywords

Citation

Borowski, D.W., Cawkwell, S., Zaidi, S.M.A., Toward, M., Maguire, N. and Gill, T.S. (2017), "Volume-outcome relationship for colorectal cancer in primary care: a prospective cohort study", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 30 No. 5, pp. 398-409. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJHCQA-01-2016-0001

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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