Incorporating cancer risk information into general practice: a qualitative study using focus groups with healthcare professionals

Juliet Usher-Smith, Barbora Silarova, Alison Ward, Jane Youell, Kenneth Muir, Jackie Campbell, Joanne Warcaba

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Background It is estimated that approximately 40% of all cases of cancer are attributable to lifestyle factors. Providing people with personalised information about their future risk of cancer may help promote behaviour change. Aim To explore the views of healthcare professionals on incorporating personalised cancer risk information based on lifestyle factors into general practice. Design and Setting Qualitative study using data from six focus groups with twenty-four general practice healthcare professionals in England. Method The focus groups were guided by a schedule covering current provision of lifestyle advice relating to cancer and views on incorporating personalised cancer risk information. Data were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and then analysed using thematic analysis. Results Providing lifestyle advice was viewed as a core activity within general practice but the influence of lifestyle on cancer risk was rarely discussed. The word ‘cancer’ was seen as a potentially powerful motivator for lifestyle change but the potential for it to generate health anxiety was also recognised. Most felt that a numerical risk estimate was more likely to influence behaviour than generic advice. All felt that general practice should be providing this information but there was a clear need for additional resources if it was going to be offered widely. Conclusion There is support among healthcare professionals for providing personalised cancer risk information within general practice. The findings highlight a number of potential benefits and challenges which will inform the future development of interventions to promote behaviour change for cancer prevention in general practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e218-e226
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number656
Early online date23 Feb 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Feb 2017


  • Cancer
  • behaviour change
  • prevention
  • primary care
  • risk assessment


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