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1.  A randomised controlled trial of the effects of a web-based PSA decision aid, Prosdex. Protocol 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:58.
Background
Informed decision making is the theoretical basis in the UK for men's decisions about Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) testing for prostate cancer testing. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effect of a web-based PSA decision-aid, Prosdex, on informed decision making in men. The objective is to assess the effect of Prosdex on six specific outcomes: (i) knowledge of PSA and prostate cancer-related issues – the principal outcome of the study; (ii) attitudes to testing; (iii) decision conflict; (iv) anxiety; (v) intention to undergo PSA testing; (vi) uptake of PSA testing. In addition, a mathematical simulation model of the effects of Prosdex will be developed.
Methods
A randomised controlled trial with four groups: two intervention groups, one viewing Prosdex and the other receiving a paper version of the site; two control groups, the second controlling for the potential Hawthorn effect of the questionnaire used with the first control group. Men between the ages of 50 and 75, who have not previously had a PSA test, will be recruited from General Practitioners (GPs) in Wales, UK. The principal outcome, knowledge, and four other outcome measures – attitudes to testing, decision conflict, anxiety and intention to undergo testing – will be measured with an online questionnaire, used by men in three of the study groups. Six months later, PSA test uptake will be ascertained from GP records; the online questionnaire will then be repeated. These outcomes, and particularly PSA test uptake, will be used to develop a mathematical simulation model, specifically to consider the impact on health service resources.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trial: ISRCTN48473735.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-58
PMCID: PMC2075498  PMID: 17916259
2.  The PSA testing dilemma: GPs' reports of consultations with asymptomatic men: a qualitative study 
BMC Family Practice  2007;8:35.
Background
The National Health Service Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme (PCRMP) has recommended that screening for prostate cancer is available for asymptomatic men, on the understanding that they have been provided with full and balanced information about the advantages and limitations of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. Guidance has been distributed to all GPs in England and Wales to assist in the provision of information to men. This study aimed to elicit GPs' accounts of their discussions with asymptomatic men who consult with concerns about prostate cancer in order to identify the degree to which the PCRMP guidance was reflected in these consultations.
Methods
Qualitative interview study. Semi-structured telephone interviews with 21 GPs from 18 GP practices in Oxfordshire.
Results
All GPs reported undertaking some discussion with asymptomatic men about the PSA test. They described focussing most of the discussion on the false-positive and false-negative rates of the test, and the risks associated with a prostate biopsy. They reported less discussion of the potential for diagnosing indolent cancers, the dilemmas regarding treatment options for localised prostate cancer and the potential benefits of testing. Considerable variation existed between GPs in their accounts of the degree of detail given, and GP's presentation of information appeared to be affected by their personal views of the PSA test.
Conclusion
The GPs in this study appear to recognise the importance of discussions regarding PSA testing; however, a full and balanced picture of the associated advantages and limitations does not seem to be consistently conveyed. Factors specific to PSA testing which appeared to have an impact on the GPs' discussions were the GP's personal opinions of the PSA test, and the need to counter men's primarily positive views of the benefits of PSA testing. Awareness of the impact of their views on the consultations may help GPs give men a more balanced presentation of the benefits and limitations of the PSA test.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-35
PMCID: PMC1925086  PMID: 17593306
3.  Bowel cancer screening in England: a qualitative study of GPs' attitudes and information needs 
BMC Family Practice  2006;7:53.
Background
The National Health Service Bowel Cancer Screening Programme is to be introduced in England during 2006. General Practitioners are a potentially important point of contact for participants throughout the screening process. The aims of the study were to examine GPs' attitudes and information needs with regard to bowel cancer screening, with a view to developing an information pack for primary care teams that will be circulated prior to the introduction of the programme.
Methods
32 GPs participated in semi-structured telephone interviews. 18 of these had participated in the English Bowel Screening Pilot, and 14 had not. Interviews covered attitudes towards the introduction of the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme, expected or actual increases in workload, confidence in promoting informed choice, and preferences for receiving information about the programme.
Results
GPs in the study were generally positive about the introduction of the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme. A number of concerns were identified by GPs who had not taken part in the pilot programme, particularly relating to patient welfare, patient participation, and increased workload. GPs who had taken part in the pilot reported holding similar concerns prior to their involvement. However, in many cases these concerns were not confirmed through GPs experiences with the pilot. A number of specific information needs were identified by GPs to enable them to provide a supportive role to participants in the programme.
Conclusion
The study has found considerable GP support for the introduction of the new Bowel Cancer Screening Programme. Nonetheless, GPs hold some significant reservations regarding the programme. It is important that the information needs of GPs and other members of the primary care team are addressed prior to the roll-out of the programme so they are equipped to promote informed choice and provide support to patients who consult them with queries regarding screening.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-7-53
PMCID: PMC1584239  PMID: 16981989
4.  PSA testing for prostate cancer: an online survey of the views and reported practice of General Practitioners in the UK 
BMC Family Practice  2005;6:24.
Background
The role of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) testing in the early detection of prostate cancer is controversial. Current UK policy stipulates that any man who wishes to have a PSA test should have access to the test, provided he has been given full information about the benefits and limitations of testing. This study aimed to determine UK GPs' current reported practice regarding PSA testing, and their views towards informed decision-making and PSA testing.
Method
Online questionnaire survey, with a sample of 421 GPs randomly selected from a database of GPs across the UK.
Results
95% (400/421) of GPs responded. 76% of GPs reported having performed a PSA test for an asymptomatic man at least once in the previous three months, with 13% reported having tested more than five men in this period. A majority of GPs reported they would do a PSA test for men presenting with a family history and requesting a test, for asymptomatic men requesting a test and also for men presenting with lower urinary tract symptoms. Reported testing rates were highest for men with a family history. Amongst men with lower urinary tract symptoms and men with no symptoms, reported testing rates were significantly higher for older than younger men.
The majority of GPs expressed support for the current policy (67%), and favoured both the general practitioner and the man being involved in the decision making process (83%). 90% of GPs indicated that they would discuss the benefits and limitation of testing with the man, with most (61%) preferring to ask the man to make a further appointment if he decides to be tested.
Conclusion
This study indicates that PSA testing in asymptomatic men is a regular occurrence in the UK, and that there is general support from GPs for the current policy of making PSA tests available to 'informed' men who are concerned about prostate cancer. While most GPs indicated they would discuss the benefits and limitations prior to PSA testing, and most GPs favoured a shared approach to decision making, it is not known to what extent men are actually being informed. Research is needed to evaluate the most effective approach to assisting men in making an informed decision about whether or not to have a PSA test.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-6-24
PMCID: PMC1180431  PMID: 15946386

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