BACKGROUND: Research has shown that delay in cancer diagnosis can have serious consequences for the patients’ prognosis and survival. The delay may partly be due to patients’ delay of medical help-seeking despite severe symptoms, GP’s lack of suspicion of serious disease and poor doctor-patient communication. This project focuses on the period until the start of targeted diagnostic investigation. The time interval can be divided into patient delay and doctor delay: • Patient delay is the time from the patients experience the first symptom until they seek medical help. • Doctor delay is the time from the patients’ first presentation of symptom to the doctor's referral to clarifying investigations at specialists or hospitals. Knowledge about psychological factors that may cause patient and doctor delay is limited, but will be essential in an intervention on preventing delay. The Attachment theory seems to be able to contribute as an explanatory model. This theory describes the evolutionary and developmental origin of patterns of close interpersonal relationships OBJECTIVE: The aims of the present project are to examine whether attachment styles in general practitioners as well as in their patients influence length of patient delay and doctor delay in patients diagnosed with cancer. Interactions between patients’ attachment styles and general practitioners’ attachment styles on patient and doctor delay will also be explored. METHODS: The project is a cross-sectional study based on registry data and questionnaires. The sample size consists of newly diagnosed cancer patients (>18 yrs) from the Central Denmark Region and their general practitioner. During one year of recruitment, a total of 3500 patients will be invited to participate. RESULTS: Data collection will be completed at the end of 2013. CONCLUSIONS: If the results of the project show a correlation between delay in the diagnostic process and patients’ and or general practitioners’ attachment styles, this knowledge will be highly relevant in medical education and specialty training in general medicine.
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Aarhus University Graduate School of Health, PhD Day 2013